Ferguson reveals Man Utd retirement decision was made at Christmas

Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed he decided to step down as Manchester United manager over the Christmas period, citing family reasons as the driving force behind his departure from the newly-crowned Premier League champions, ESPN has reported.

The 71-year-old added that speculation he had been asked to retire or was leaving for reasons of ill-health were wide of the mark, and that keeping the decision a secret was particularly difficult. Members of the Ferguson family were told in March, with Ferguson’s brother learning early last week, shortly before the United players.

Ferguson said: “I decided at Christmas. Cathy’s [Ferguson’s wife] sister died. She had lost her best friend and she has been isolated. For 47 years she has been the leader of the family. She has made a lot of sacrifices for me.

The former Aberdeen manager rounded off his United career with a 13th league title victory, clinched a few weeks earlier, with United beating Swansea City 2-1 in Ferguson’s last game in charge at Old Trafford. He was appointed to succeed Ron Atkinson in November 1986 and, along with the many titles lifted, won the European Cup on two occasions, in 1999 and 2008.

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