As inspirational Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany so eloquently and respectfully posted on Twitter on Wednesday morning: “Sir Alex, one of the best managers of all time. After 26 years of success in the game, we all owe him a tribute.”
Well said Vinnie, here is mine…
With Manchester United officially confirming Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement at the end of the season – a mile down the road you could hear the laughter emanating from the blue half of the city. Whilst United fans lament the decision taken by undoubtedly the greatest manager English football has ever seen, Manchester City fans are starting to party – and rightly so. Did someone say jelly and ice cream?
Over the past 26 years we have had to endure the dominance of our bitter rivals with Sir Alex at the helm. We’ve seen 14 managers come and go in the time that the 71-year-old Scot has been in charge over the road. Now he’s the one that’s finally going.
When Sir Alex took charge of Manchester United back in 1986, City were managed by former Oldham player Jimmy Frizzell. He was out the door by May the following year having relegated us. We saw Mel Machin replace him, win promotion and beat United 5-1 in what was described as the lowest point of Sir Alex’s career…up until the shenanigans of last season’s 6-1 victory at Old Trafford. Following Machin there was Howard Kendall, Peter Reid, Brian Horton, Alan Ball, Steve Coppell, Frank Clark, Joe Royle, Kevin Keegan, Stuart Pearce, Sven-Goran Eriksson and Mark Hughes. Unless City do something crazy and sack Roberto Mancini, the Italian will be the only manager Sir Alex won’t have seen off in 26 years.
The announcement of Sir Alex’s retirement came as a surprise to many though perhaps it really shouldn’t. There have been signs for a while that the inevitable end to his tenure was fast approaching. Not just because it would have happened last season if not for little Sergio Aguero. Not just because he’s a 71-year-old with a pacemaker and due a hip operation. But because when Ashley Williams booted the ball at the back of Robin van Persie’s head earlier this season, Sir Alex claimed it could have “killed” his star striker. He was starting to lose the plot.
For the last few seasons there has been an enjoyable war between the two Manchester clubs. With both finally competing for the same trophies, Sir Alex’s self-proclaimed “noisy neighbours” were knocking on his door culminating in last season’s epic final day of the season. And although the mind games between Sir Alex and Roberto Mancini might end, they’ll presumably be taken up once David Moyes is announced as United’s new manager.
Most City fans look at the side that has proficiently beaten us to the Premier League this season and wonder how it happened. But deep down we know why. Sir Alex Ferguson consistently managed to squeeze the best out of his team – regardless of how good or bad they were. Sure, he built a good team at Old Trafford these last two years but it’s nowhere near his best side, yet their results have been nothing short of impressive. That’s the Sir Alex factor, and that’s why we’re happy he’s going.
It is the end of an era at Old Trafford. There will be a lot of United fans – and football fans in general – who will not be able to recall a time when Sir Alex wasn’t perched in his seat at the Theatre of Dreams or fervently gesticulating at the officials from the touchline. One can only imagine Ryan Giggs turning up to training next season looking like a lost puppy. Sir Alex is the only club manager Ryan Giggs has ever known – and he made his debut 22 years ago.
The final game of the season for United against West Brom will see Sir Alex take charge of his 1500th (and final!) game as Manchester United manager. In his 26 years in charge he has won 38 trophies – including 13 league titles, two Champions League trophies and five FA Cups. It’s remarkable really. That’s why we’re rejoicing. There won’t ever be a manager like him again. And there probably won’t ever be a dynasty at a club like his at Old Trafford. That’s why he deserves respect even if, like the vast majority of City fans, you didn’t particularly like him.
Despite his bitter jibes and rambling rants about referees in the modern game, football will miss the red-faced Scot.
Farewell Sir Alex. Enjoy your retirement.