After 26 years in charge and 38 trophies during a glorious reign, one of the world’s most successful managers is stepping down. Sir Alex Ferguson will retire as manager of Manchester United at the end of the season, confirms BBC
In a statement he said: “The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about. It is the right time. It was important to me leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so.
“The quality of this league winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level whilst the structure of the youth set-up will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains a bright one.”
Ferguson will be in charge for his final ever home match in the dugout against Swansea, a match where the Red Devils will collect the FA Premier League trophy after the game on Sunday.
After a trophy parade in the city on Monday, his final game will be at The Hawthorns against West Brom on 19 May before the 71-year-old moves into a role as a director and ambassador at the club.
Outgoing chief executive of Manchester United David Gill paid his own tribute, saying: “I’ve had the tremendous pleasure of working very closely with Alex for 16 unforgettable years – through the treble, the double, countless trophy wins and numerous signings.
“We knew that his retirement would come one day and we both have been planning for it by ensuring the quality of the squad and club structures are in first-class condition.”
The feisty Scot came from Aberdeen in November 1986 to succeed Ron Atkinson at a time where the city of Manchester was lagging behind Merseyside in the English football pyramid.
After tough early years, the first silverware arrived with the FA Cup in 1990, followed by the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1991.
Since then, his haul includes 13 Premier League titles, taking United to 20 championships overall, two above Liverpool’s previous record.
There was the famous treble in 1999, and a Premier League and Champions League double in 2008. Five FA Cups and four League Cups were also won in a reign that realistically is unlikely to ever be seen again in the British game.
There were rumours yesterday on social networking site Twitter of an impending announcement on Ferguson’s future, with the senior players speculating what might happen on a golf day in Cheshire.
Paul Ince, who won two league titles with Ferguson in the mid-1990s, told Sky Sports News: “I’m totally shocked. What he’s done is unbelievable. You’ll never see anyone of his kind again.
“Two weeks ago he was talking about staying on for another two years, so it’s a massive, massive shock.
“The way he treated me was like a son.”
Ferguson has invested heavily in bringing the likes of Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Dwight Yorke, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Jaap Stam to the club over the years, along with bringing in a phenomenal youth academy that turned Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, the Neville brothers, Nicky Butt and of course, David Beckham into legendary status.
There is no word on who might be Ferguson’s successor, although bookmakers have David Moyes and Jose Mourinho down as favourites to succeed the Scot.
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