Ferguson era ends at Man U

Ferguson era ends at Man U

Football: Super coach brings career to close after 26 years at the helm; to don the role of club director

Ferguson era ends at Man U

Alex Ferguson, Britain's longest-serving and most decorated soccer manager, will retire at the end of the season after more than 26 years and nearly 1,500 matches at the helm of Manchester United, he announced on Wednesday.

The 71-year-old Scot ended intense speculation that he was about to call time on his career by confirming he would step aside after champions United's last game of the season at West Bromwich Albion on May 19.

His decision ends a glittering era at Old Trafford in which the club won 13 English league titles, two European Cups, five FA Cups and four League Cups as well as the FIFA Club World Cup. Former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and Everton's long-serving boss David Moyes, a Scot like Ferguson, are the bookmakers' favourites to take over.

Ferguson arrived in Manchester in 1986 after Ron Atkinson was sacked and, after a difficult start, began building an empire that shows no sign of crumbling with the club recapturing the English title from Manchester City this season.

"The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about and one that I have not taken lightly. It is the right time," Ferguson, who has been in charge of 1,498 matches for the club, winning nearly 900 of them, said on United's website (www.manutd.com).

United said Ferguson, who is to undergo hip surgery during the off-season, would remain at the club as a director.

"It was important to me to leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so," added Glasgow-born Ferguson who had announced he would retire after the 2001-02 season before changing his mind.

"Going forward, I am delighted to take on the roles of both director and ambassador for the club," he said.

"With these activities, along with my many other interests, I am looking forward to the future."

Ferguson, who in 2010 surpassed Matt Busby's as the longest-serving manager in United's history, had given no hint of his retirement in his programme notes for Sunday's home game against Chelsea, appearing to suggest he would continue his reign for the foreseeable future.

"Whether I will be here to oversee another decade of success remains to be seen but I certainly don't have any plans at the moment to walk away from what I believe will be something special and worth being around to see," he said in the statement.

The suddenness of his decision left some who served under him in a state of disbelief.

Ferguson's passion for the game has never diminished, as was demonstrated this season when he led the club to a record 20th league title, two more than the 18 won by Liverpool whom Ferguson vowed to "knock off their perch" when he walked into Old Trafford in 1986.

Ferguson, a horse-racing enthusiast and wine connoisseur, was not an overnight success, experiencing some difficult years before landing the FA Cup in 1990 and the Cup Winners' Cup the year after.

Ending United's 25-year wait for the English title in 1992-93 proved to be the catalyst for two decades of domination despite the challenges of Arsenal, Chelsea and more recently Manchester City.

Famous for his so-called "hairdryer" outbursts of rage at high-profile players, his manic gum-chewing and almost child-like celebration of goals, Ferguson became one of the world's most respected coaches with his philosophy of attacking football and his ability to re-build teams.

His faith in young players launched the careers of David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs while his signings of players such as Eric Cantona, Rio Ferdinand, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney proved masterstrokes.
Robin Van Persie, his most recent big-name signing, has scored 25 league goals in his first season at the club as United reclaimed the title from Manchester City with ease.  
Off the field Ferguson proved himself the perfect ambassador and diplomat as the club controversially passed into the ownership of the American Glazer family in 2005.  "Alex has proven time and time again what a fantastic manager he is but he's also a wonderful person," Joel Glazer, son of owner Malcolm, said in the club statement.

"His determination to succeed and dedication to the club have been truly remarkable.  "I will always cherish the wonderful memories he has given us, like that magical night in Moscow," he added, referring to the 2008 Champions League final victory over Chelsea on penalties.

Sir Alex at ManU

* 13 Premier League titles: 1992-93, 1993-94, 1995-96, 1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2002-03, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2010-11, 2012-13
* 5 FA Cups: 1989-90, 1993-94, 1995-96, 1998-99, 2003-04
* 4 League Cups: 1991-92, 2005-06, 2008-09, 2009-10
* 10 Charity/Community Shields: 1990 (shared), 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011
* 2 Champions League: 1998-99, 2007-08
* 1 European Cup Winners Cup: 1990-91
* 1 UEFA Super Cup: 1991
* 1 Intercontinental Cup: 1999
* 1 FIFA Club World Cup: 2008

From Ferguson to Sir Alex

* Born Dec. 31, 1941 in Glasgow, Scotland, he has led Manchester United to two Champions League triumphs, 13 Premier League titles and five FA Cups.
* His greatest achievement was in 1999 when United won the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup.
* He was knighted for his services to British football in the same year, following the unprecedented treble.
* Before joining United, he led Aberdeen to three Scottish titles and one European Cup Winners' Cup, breaking the dominance of Glasgow giants Rangers and Celtic in Scottish football.

FIRST CLUBS:

* He played in Scotland for Queens Park, St Johnstone, Dunfermline, Rangers, Falkirk and Ayr United.
* Managed Scottish sides East Stirlingshire, St Mirren and Aberdeen and was Scotland's caretaker manager at the 1986 World Cup finals before moving to United.
MANCHESTER UNITED:
* Ferguson took over at Old Trafford on November 6, 1986, after the dismissal of Ron Atkinson. 
* He guided them away from the relegation zone but success failed to materialise in the following seasons and he was close to being sacked before United won the FA Cup in 1990, the first silverware under his reign.
* In December 2010, he surpassed the 24-year-plus tenure of Sir Matt Busby to become the longest-serving manager in United's history. 

PERSONAL LIFE:

* Ferguson also has a passion for horse racing and is a part-owner of two horses - "What A Friend" and "Harry The Viking".
* Ferguson married Cathy Holding in 1966. They have three sons: Mark, Darren and Jason.

Reactions

“Sir Alex Ferguson’s achievement at MUFC has been exceptional. Hopefully his retirement will make life a little easier for my team.”

David Cameron
British Prime Minister


 “His achievements in the game place him without doubt as one of the ‘greats’. Will his longevity at the top ever be repeated?”

Sepp Blatter
FIFA President


"What he has done for this club and for the game in general will never be forgotten. It has been the greatest experience of my working life being alongside Alex and a great honour to be able to call him a friend."

David Gill
Man United chief executive

 
“He is such a fantastic manager. He would get up in the middle of the night and travel 300 miles if he thought there was a schoolboy that he could sign.”

Bobby Charlton
Former United player and current Man U director


“It has come as a bombshell, I really don’t know what to make of it. Yesterday I was really happy with what he had done this season, now this, I’m disappointed and very sad. He’s always said the day would come when something in his life wasn’t right, is it is hip operation (he will have this summer)? I can’t see him retiring over that. (Until) he explains why, we can guess and guess.”

Peter Schmeichel
Man United’s former goalkeeper, one of Ferguson’s important signings.


“Thanks for everything, Boss.”

Cristiano Ronaldo
Former Man United and current Real Madrid striker


“It's just not sinking in! Manchester United with no Sir Alex just doesn't feel right. What a man and great that it has ended on his terms.”

Micheal Owen
Former Man United striker

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