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Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Fergie, Time Up; Sir Alex Ferguson Announces Retirement

Everyone in football knew that this day was coming; everyone at Manchester United knew that this day was coming; it just wasn’t supposed to be today.  Today 8th May 2013, the most successful manager in British football history has announced he will be retiring at the end of the season.  This announcement has made the news not only here in the UK but around the world, it is huge, huge news.

Just to put all this in to perspective… Sir Alex took the reins at Old Trafford before I was born (I’m 23) and he has won everything there is to win, more impressively, often more than once. Here are some numbers for you. His record at Manchester United reads like this; 13 league titles, 5 F.A Cups, 4 League Cups, 10 Charity/Community Shields, 2 Champions Leagues, 1 UEFA Cup Winners Cup, 1 European super cup, 1 Intercontinental cup and 1 Club World Cup. I think it’s fair to say he was pretty good.
But his managerial career didn’t start off with shiny trophies and champagne.  His first managerial job was at the footballing powerhouse that is East Stirling. He then moved on to St Mirren where he won the 1st Division with a ridiculously young team, but it was here where he was sacked for the first and only time, but it can’t be said that this held him back. Next up for the ambitious Ferguson was Aberdeen, and this is where he really made his mark.

For all the success that Ferguson enjoyed at United, what is often overlooked is what he accomplished at Aberdeen, which in some ways is equally if not more impressive than some of things he did in Manchester. To start with he broke the Celtic/Rangers stranglehold on Scottish football (the last man to do so) and had them not only competing in Europe but winning. He took average players and made them good players and took good players and made them exceptional. During his time with The Dons he won 3 league titles, 4 Scottish cups, 1 league cup, The European Cup Winners Cup in 83 and 1 European Super Cup. In the Cup Winners Cup Aberdeen beat Real Madrid no less. Real Madrid!!!
While all this was going on he was offered numerous jobs both south of the border and at Rangers where he had been a centre forward as a player. At various points he turned down, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Wolves as well as apparently resisting an approach from United. But as everyone knows he did eventually take the plunge and turned Manchester United into one of the biggest clubs in the world. He got to know everyone from the men at the top to the tea lady, he had the everyman touch and he knew that making people feel valued was key to United being successful.

He created a dynasty almost like an Italian mafia don. And how do you replace The Don?  Having said this he won’t be leaving the club completely, he will be moving upstairs to sit on the board and work as an ambassador. But this might not be the perfect match that it seems, United have been here before. When Sir Matt Busby relinquished control of the club he also moved upstairs and for years afterwards managers spoke about the pressure of knowing the great man was still at the club watching over them.

The bottom line is that it is going to be a very difficult task for whoever moves into the Old Trafford managers’ office next. At the moment it looks like it won’t be Jose Mourinho, and I think this is a good decision. I don’t see how he fits the club. Ferguson created inside the club ‘the United family,’ this won’t work if the man at the top feels he is bigger than the club and they are lucky to have him. The stars however seem to be aligning for David Moyes and he could be a good choice, his relationship with Ferguson could well be key. In my opinion if they do go for Moyes it will either be a brilliant choice and the team will keep winning or it will be an unmitigated disaster, as the Scot drowns under the pressure, and size of the job of replacing the man who’s name adorns the stand which directly faces the Old Trafford dugout.

For what it’s worth, my choice would be Jurgen Klopp from Dortmund. His team in Germany are being broken up, and he has a knack of getting the best out of and developing young players. And with the situation at Dortmund he may be looking for a new challenge, while Sir Alex is a known admirer of the German.
But frankly right now it doesn’t matter who takes over, as I said they are going to have a massive job on their hands whoever they are. Today is about looking back at the career of the man who is one of the best to do it. He is loved by millions, hated by millions more, but acknowledged as a true great by nigh on everyone, and there are not many who can say that in any profession. Football. Bloody hell.

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