It's Fergie time at Jordanstown as Sir Alex Ferguson collects honorary degree
There was little sign of the gloom that recently enveloped Old Trafford as a relaxed Sir Alex Ferguson turned up to collect an honorary degree.
'Fergie' was at the University of Ulster's Jordanstown campus yesterday, where he was gently ribbed about his old team's form by University Chancellor Jimmy Nesbitt.
The Glaswegian was made a Doctor of Science by the Coleraine actor, a lifelong Manchester United fan.
During his 26-year managerial career in Manchester he steered United to almost 40 trophies including 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League triumphs.
"Ulster has well-established roots in sporting excellence, making Sir Alex the perfect role model for our students and graduates," said Nesbitt.
"Sir Alex's success is the result of ambition, integrity and above all, a passion for football and his players which can be emulated in sport and further afield."
Ferguson's address covered a wide range of topics – but there was no mention of the man he hand picked as his successor, David Moyes, whose future is the subject of intense speculation.
Ferguson spoke of the influence of his parents, school teachers and his love of history books.
"This is a very important day for me and it's nice to see a full house because Manchester United always play in front of them," he said.
"It is an honour to receive this award from such an esteemed institution and it's great to be back in Belfast once again.
"The core principles that I applied throughout my career, those of hard work, determination and strong character, are a cornerstone of the university.
"I am humbled that my experiences and accomplishments are viewed by the university as an inspiration to its students and graduates."
Ferguson talked of great United teams of the past, mentioning some of the legendary players he had worked with.
"Players like (Roy) Keane, (Eric) Cantona, and (Bryan) Robson made the spirit of Manchester United," he added.
"They had the desire and work ethic that all players need and it's not just about ability and talent.
"But you also need a bit of luck to succeed and sometimes it's good and other times it's bad – for me the important thing was to try and treat both the same."