Twelve years after initially announcing his retirement, the question of who to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson hangs as heavy now as it did then.
Tributes in newspapers and online journals have likened his retirement to the end of an era. A generation of football fans, myself included, will know nothing other than the tenure of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. After 27 years at the helm, the club he joined and the club he leaves are two very different things.
Winning the Premier League would be enough for some players or managers. The true testament to Sir Alex Ferguson’s ability will be his continued hunger, desire and determination to succeed years later. To successfully break down a title winning side and then rebuild from the bottom up, whilst adapting his own style of management, speaks volumes of his capabilities.
Loved by his club, loathed by supporters of others, little will detract from his overall accomplishments. The signing of world class players has been evident, as are those of failures that couldn’t live up to expectations. The current Premier League winning squad is probably not the greatest, and has arguably been left behind by the Spanish and German champions. On balance however, it’s hard to detract from a club that has produced title winning teams year after year.
Whilst praising his achievements and capabilities, tribute should also be paid to the people that have supported him over the decades of management. Ferguson himself has consistently mentioned his wife Cathy as a constant devotee to his own work. David Gill, chief executive of Manchester United since 2001 has had a hugely significant role over the past decade in managing the club, is also leaving soon. Had the infrastructure, the resources, and the players not been present, Premier League history may have been very different.
Ferguson may be leaving the dugout, but his influence and his legacy will loom large over Old Trafford. The Glazers and the board of directors will no doubt have appointed his successor as manager with a view to lasting a comparable amount of time in the position. The act to follow is one of, if not, the hardest in world football, and nothing other than instant success will be good enough for some fans. Whether the modern demands of football at the highest level take hold, or Manchester United stick to giving the new manager the same faith shown to Busby and Ferguson, remains to be seen.
13 Premier League Titles. 5 FA Cups. 4 League Cups. 10 FA Community Shields. 2 UEFA Champions League wins. 1 UEFA Cup Winners Cup. 1 UEFA Super Cup. 1 FIFA Club World Cup. And only one Sir Alex Ferguson.