Alex the knight calls it a day

Sir Alex Ferguson has afforded himself a luxury that an increasing proportion of managers will never be able to. He retires a champion.

It’s appropriate that he does because, if there was anything that Sir Alex was, he was a winner.

SirAlex
Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement on May 8th, 2013. Photo: The Sport Review (via Flickr)

“A week is a long time in politics,” opined Harold Wilson. Try 26 years in sport pal.

There can never be a nailed-on “best manager in the history of the game”, you can only put yourself in the mix with the likes of Bob Paisley, Brian Clough, Rinus Michels and so forth.

However, Ferguson for my money is the benchmark, not only for managerial achievement, but for clubs around the world. It was an environment of success that Ferguson created; a juggernaut of winning power, over and over again…

You’ll find less silverware in a cutlery draw than you would in Sir Alex’s time at Manchester United. Having gone trophy-less for a few seasons initially, the chairmen would soon be rewarded for their patience.

13 league titles, two Champions League titles, five FA Cup wins and four League Cup wins. Those statistics would blow most other club histories out of the water. Let alone one man’s tenure.

But Ferguson was not squeaky clean. His feisty attitude towards the media made him difficult to like at times and, although occasionally justified, his temper matched with constant nagging of officials left a sour taste in the mouth of opposition.

My argument is he was certainly no role model in terms of patience or even, at times, common decency. But, fortunately for him, he was a role model in success and achievement.

He fended off Wenger’s “Invincibles”, Mourinho’s millions, Mancini’s Man City and of course, he knocked Liverpool right off their perch.

Time after time, Ferguson rebuilt his squad while simultaneously maintaining their status as one of the world’s finest sides. Experts say this is around the fifth or sixth squad he has created, and they’ve rarely wavered during construction.

Of course we must mention David Moyes, the sensible choice to replace Sir Alex. He’s Scottish and a manager, so it seems meant to be. Maybe they were hoping no one would notice anything had changed.

But in all seriousness, the task ahead of Moyes is a grand one as the behemoth that is Manchester United is handed over to him. Granted Sir Alex will be the stabilisers to Moyes’ Manchester bike, but those will be removed over the coming seasons.

The question is will Moyes and Manchester United come away with any grazes?

They say no man is greater than the club; the time has come to test that theory.

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