The End Of An Era

After more than twenty-six seasons at Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson has officially retired from his position as manager of the club. It was the announcement that stunned world football. Many knew that one day the inevitable would happen, yet as time passed, that theory became less and less of a worry for fans and players alike. The career of Ferguson or “Fergie” (as dubbed by the media), has been one of extraordinary achievement and dedication. He has steered the Reds to five FA Cups, thirteen Premier League titles and two UEFA Champions League trophies, to name only some of his achievements. In the process he has made the club into one of the most famous teams in the world, with children from across the globe sporting a Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney or Cristiano Ronaldo jersey. Alongside his ability to retain superstar caliber players, it would be a disservice to Fergie if we failed to mention his skills in discovering new footballing talents. Both of the careers of Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham were started at the club and encouraged to strive for the highest goals, making them sought after by many high profile football clubs.  But it was his ability to mentally connect and engage with his players that was envied by a significant number of other managers. While he has been described as somewhat insensitive, his football knowledge, expertise and experience was respected by all. None more so than the fans, who placed him on a metaphorical pedestal following the epic 2008 UEFA Champions League Final win against rivals Chelsea. It was after this that Manchester United hit their peak, winning nine titles. But another European crown continued to elude Ferguson. These victories ensured that he remained at the top of this pedestal and became one of world football’s most valuable figures. Yet the wise say that once the mighty reach the top, the only way to go is down.  Indeed the club had been struggling domestically due to fitness and injury issues with key players, but faith in him never faded. Nor did Fergie’s loyalty to the club. In a statement he said: “It has been an honour and an enormous privilege to have had the opportunity to lead your club and I have treasured my time as manager of Manchester United.” He has been described by Reds great Sir Bobby Charlton as a very dedicated manager who would “…get up in the middle of the night and travel 300 miles if he thought there was a schoolboy he could sign.”  His decision comes in the wake of the beginning of another crucial transfer window for the club. Not only are new players sought after, but also a coach. The position is expected to be vacant for another 24 hours before a replacement will be announced, with bets starting on who will fill the place. Some believe that Rafael Benitez will assume the role, others want Jose Mourinho and a few have even called on Beckham himself to secure the position. Yet whoever it is, will have much to do with acquiring new players but also creating a smooth transition for a team who have followed every word of Ferguson.  And so dawns a new era in the history of Manchester United. Gone are the days of Fergie, whose teachings, antics and successes have inspired nations and will continue to have its rightful place among the club’s faithful. His experience and influence is arguably un-matched by any other manager in world football. It goes with question that the new coach will have big shoes to fill. Roanna Sanelli

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