Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Sir Alex Ferguson: a salute to the departing king of English football

Shivd Hawan from Manchester outside Old Trafford on the day Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retires from management, Wednesday May 8, 2013
Shivd Hawan from Manchester outside Old Trafford on the day Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retires from management, Wednesday May 8, 2013
Sir Alex Ferguson may have been wondering if he had found the next Ryan Giggs in 16-week old Aaron Fenwick at Coleraine. BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
Man United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has a chat with Claire Gallagher, who lost her sight in the Omagh bomb, before a friendly against Omagh Town in aid of the Omagh Bomb Fund.
File photo dated 19/04/2009 of Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson (left) vents his frustration towards fourth official Alan Wiley (right)
File photo dated 01/09/2004 of Manchester United's new signing Wayne Rooney (r) and manager Sir Alex Ferguson pose with his shirt
(FILE PHOTO) Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has announced that he will retire at the end of the season after 26 years in charge. ABERDEEN, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 12: Sir Alex Ferguson looks on during the pre-season friendly, match between Aberdeen and Manchester United at Pittodrie Stadium on July 12, 2008 in Aberdeen, Scotland. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)
File photo dated 11/05/2008 of Manchester United players are lead out by manager Alex Ferguson to collect their trophy following the Barclays Premier League match at JJB Stadium, Wigan
Shivd Hawan from Manchester outside Old Trafford on the day Sir Alex Ferguson announces his retires from management
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has announced that he will retire at the end of the season after 26 years in charge. UK/Allsport
File photo dated 06/04/2009 of Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo with manager Sir Alex Ferguson during a press conference at Carrington Training Ground, Manchester
General view of Old Trafford on the day Sir Alex Ferguson announces his retires from management
Shivd Hawan from Manchester outside Old Trafford on the day Sir Alex Ferguson announces his retires from management
(FILE PHOTO) Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has announced that he will retire at the end of the season after 26 years in charge. MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 09: Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Stoke City at Old Trafford on May 9, 2010 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
General view of Old Trafford on the day Sir Alex Ferguson announces his retires from management
Craig Clark from Manchester outside Old Trafford on the day Sir Alex Ferguson announces his retires from management
File photo dated 06/05/2000 of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson smiles as his side are crowned FA Carling Premiership Champions
File photo dated 07/11/1986 of Manchester United's new manager Alex Ferguson at a press conference at Old Trafford, decked out in his new team's colours
(FILE PHOTO) Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has announced that he will retire at the end of the season after 26 years in charge. 15 May 1991: Portrait of Manchester United Manager Alex Ferguson with the trophy after the European Cup Winners Cup final against Barcelona at the Feyenoord Stadium in Rotterdam, Holland. Manchester United won the match 2-1. \ Mandatory Credit: David Cannon/Allsport
File photo dated 11/05/2008 of Manchester United players are lead out by manager Alex Ferguson to collect their trophy following the Barclays Premier League match at JJB Stadium, Wigan
File photo dated 07/11/1986 of New Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson (hands in pockets) chats to team players during a break in their training session
File photo dated 17/05/1990 of Manchester United captain Bryan Robson holds up the FA Cup after the presentation by the Duke of Kent following United's 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace in the FA Cup replay at Wembley
File photo dated 27/05/99 of Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson gives the European Champions League Cup a big kiss in Barcelona, after his team's victory over Bayern Munich at the Nou Camp stadium
File photo dated 15/05/2000 of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson with the Carling Premiership Trophy and the Carling Manager of the Year Award (left), which he won at the League Managers Association Dinner
File photo dated 22/05/2008 of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson arrives with the UEFA Champions League Trophy at Manchester Airport
File photo dated 13/08/1996 of Man Utd Manager Alex Ferguson shows off the Premiership Trophy to the Old Trafford fans before their friendly against Inter Milan
File photo dated 08/11/1999 of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, holds up the plaque as he receives the freedom of the City of Glasgow
File photo dated 01/03/2009 of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson lifts the trophy as he celebrates winning the Carling Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London
File photo dated 21/05/2008 of Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo is emotional as he celebrates with manager Alex Ferguson and Ryan Giggs, after they won the UEFA Champions League Final
File photo dated 14/05/1986 of Scotland manager Alex Ferguson wished bon voyage by Glasgow Airport staff when they presented him with a mascot as he left with the squad for the World Cup in Mexico
File photo dated 08/9/1998 of Alex Ferguson relaxing in his office
File photo dated 27/05/99 of Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson gives the European Champions League Cup a big kiss in Barcelona, after his team's victory over Bayern Munich at the Nou Camp stadium
File photo dated 5/05/2001: Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is applauded by his captain Roy Keane, as he lifts the FA Carling Premiership trophy
File photo dated 16/05/1991: A wonderful moment for British soccer as Sir Matt Busby, the last manager to lead Manchester Utd to Ruropean glory before Alex Ferguson, watched his side beat Barcelona for the European cup winners cup in Rotterdam
File photo dated 16/05/1999: Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson holds aloft the Premiership Trophy as he celebrates Manchester United becoming Champions of the Premiership at Old Trafford
File photo dated 07/11/1986: Manchester United's new manager Alex Ferguson (left) at a press conference at Old Trafford, with chairman Martin Edwards
File photo dated 20/07/1999: Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, who received a knighthood from the Queen, during an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace
File photo dated 27/05/99: Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson gives the European Champions League Cup a big kiss in Barcelona, after his team's victory over Bayern Munich at the Nou Camp stadium
File photo dated 5/05/2001: Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is applauded by his captain Roy Keane, as he lifts the FA Carling Premiership trophy
File photo dated 08/11/1986: Manchester United's new manager Alex Ferguson watches from the dugout during United's Division One match away to Oxford United. Manchester United lost 2-0
File photo dated 15/05/2000: England manager Kevin Keegan presents Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson with the Carling Manager of the Year Award at the League Managers Association Dinner
File photo dated 22/4/2013: Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates winning the league title after the final whistle
File photo dated 05/05/1998: Jaap Stam signs for Manchester United with Alex Ferguson
File photo dated 23/11/12: A statue of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is unveiled at Old Trafford, Manchester
File photo dated 23/04/2011: Everton manager David Moyes (right) shouts instructions to his team as Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson gestures to the officials regarding the amount of added time, on the touchline
Sir Alex Ferguson has retired as manager of Manchester United
File photo dated 10/1/1995 of Manchester United's £6 million new signing from Newcastle United Andy Cole (left), pictured at their Old Trafford ground, in Manchester, with the team's manager Alex Ferguson
(FILE PHOTO) Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has announced that he will retire at the end of the season after 26 years in charge. BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 10: Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United walks out during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Manchester United at Villa Park on February 10, 2010 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
(FILE PHOTO) Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has announced that he will retire at the end of the season after 26 years in charge. MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10: Sir Alex Ferguson the Manchester United manager applauds the fans following his team's 4-1 victory during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford on December 10, 2011 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
File photo dated 27/11/1992 of Eric Cantona, Manchester United's new signing, with manager Alex Ferguson
File photo dated 11/05/2002 of Manchester United's David Beckham (right) with manger Sir Alex Ferguson, after the player signed a new contract to keep him at the club
File photo dated 17/08/2012 of Manchester United's new signing Robin Van Persie (left) with manager Sir Alex Ferguson following a press conference at Old Trafford, Manchester
File photo dated 9/12/2001 of England's David Beckham (L) with his BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award 2001 and Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson with his Lifetime Achievement Award at BBC Television Centre, London
File photo dated 21/05/2008 of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson with the trophy after the UEFA Champions League Final at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
File photo dated 22/4/2013 of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates winning the league title after the final whistle
File photo dated 03/11/1978 of Alex Ferguson in Glasgow making history as the first football club manager to take his sacking to an industrial tribunal claiming unfair dismissal. Alex Ferguson lost his job as manager at Scottish Premier League club St Mirren in May, but is currently at Aberdeen. St Mirren chairman William Scott told the tribunal Mr Ferguson had been sacked for the 'improper carrying out of his duties'. St Mirren won the case
File photo dated 22/05/1999 of Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson lifts the FA Cup following his sides 2-0 victory over Newcastle United in the FA Cup final at Wembley
File photo dated 05/11/2011 of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson with Chief Executive David Gill
File photo dated 21/05/2008 of Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson runs onto the pitch to congratulate Cristiano Ronaldo with Gary Neville (left)
File photo dated 22/04/2012 of Manchester United's manager Sir Alex Ferguson and Everton's manager David Moyes laugh with the fourth official
File photo dated 04/04/1996 of Manchester United's Alex Ferguson and Eric Cantona celebrating in Manchester after winning the Carling's Manager of the Month and Player of the Month respectively
File photo dated 16/05/2009 of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson lifts the Barclays Premier League trophy
File photo dated 16/05/1999 of Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson (right) congratulates David Beckham (centre) and Roy Keane after his side clinched the Premiership Title at Old Trafford
File photo dated 23/04/2011 of Everton manager David Moyes (right) shouts instructions to his team as Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson gestures to the officials regarding the amount of added time, on the touchline
File photo dated 01/09/2004 of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson (left) and new signing Wayne Rooney (right) with Joe Ruane (centre) who held a sign pleading for the club to sign Rooney at the match against Dinamo Buchrest
File photo dated 01/11/1997 of Carling Premiership Manager of the Month Alex Ferguson
File photo dated 08/06/1996 of Newcastle boss Kevin Keegan (left) gets to grips with Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson as they meet at Wembley for the start of the European Championships
File photo dated 05/03/2013 of Manchester United's manager Sir Alex Ferguson
File photo dated 05/02/2002 of Manchester United fan Gary Breslin smiles as he reads the Manchester Evening News proclaiming that United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is set to continue in charge, outside Old Trafford. The club have confirmed they are in negotiations with Sir Alex for him to carry on as manager
File photo dated 06/05/2003 of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson (right) with player Ryan Giggs, holding eight bottles of champagne representing their eight Premiership title wins
File photo dated 22/02/2002 of Manchester United's new 30million signing Rio Ferdinand stands with club manager Alex Ferguson as they pose for photographers at the club's Old Trafford ground
File photo dated 17/05/1990 of The Manchester United team after winning the FA Cup at Wembley. United beat Crystal Palace 1-0
File photo dated 06/05/2000 of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson smiles as his side are crowned FA Carling Premiership Champions
File photo dated 26/05/99 of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson with the UEFA Champions League Trophy following victory over Bayern Munich
File photo dated 27/04/2001 of Manchester United's record signing Ruud Van Nistelrooy with United manager Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford, Manchester. The player joins United from Dutch team Eindhoven
File photo dated 28/04/2007 of Manchester United's manager Alex Ferguson with Ryan Giggs
File photo dated 07/11/1986 of Manchester United's new manager Alex Ferguson (left) at a press conference at Old Trafford, with chairman Martin Edwards
File photo dated 5/05/2001 of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is applauded by his captain Roy Keane, as he lifts the FA Carling Premiership trophy
File photo dated 17/05/1990 of Manchester United's goalscorer Lee Martin holds aloft the FA Cup after his team's 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace in the replay at Wembley
File photo dated 05/05/1996 of Manchester united manager Alex Ferguson (right) and assistant manager Brian Kidd hold the premiership trophy after their side beat middlesbrough to win the title at Riverside Stadium
File photo dated 11/05/2003 of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson holds the Premiership trophy after his side 2-1 win over Everton
File photo dated 20/08/1998 of Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, with Dwight Yorke today (Thursday) after he became Manchester United's record signing for a staggering £12.6million, at Old Trafford
File photo dated 11/05/2008 of Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson celebrates with the trophy following the Barclays Premier League match at JJB Stadium, Wigan
File photo dated 07/11/1986 of New Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, who will be in charge of the team for the first time at Oxford tomorrow
File photo dated 22/05/2011 of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates with the Premier League trophy
File photo dated 21/05/2008 of Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson celebrates with the trophy after winning the UEFA Champions League Final at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia
File photo dated 26/05/99 of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson with the UEFA Champions League Trophy following victory over Bayern Munich

Fergie time. It's over. No turning back on this occasion. Sir Alex Ferguson is departing the stage he has strutted for 27 years.

Such was the shuddering impact of his resignation it hit the sporting world like an earthquake. It's hard to believe, but soon this truly great Scot will be a manager no more.

After the game with Swansea City on Sunday, when he will lift a 13th Premier League trophy, he'll bid farewell to his adoring flock inside Old Trafford amid an atmosphere super charged with emotion.

Expect tears from the United fans. Expect cheers from everyone else.

Over the next few days if you see people walking around with an extra spring in their step or a big smile on their face, it would be wise to assume that they are Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City, Spurs and Arsenal supporters.

While there is a mournful mood amongst the Manchester United faithful, feeling like they have lost a loved one, other football followers are jumping for joy because with Fergie's exit there is a glimmer of hope that the Red Devils will no longer be the dominant force in the English game.

David Moyes has done a fine job at Everton and is an astute manager with the same steely desire as compatriot Ferguson, but he will not strike fear into the opposition and referees like his predecessor.

Sir Alex Ferguson wasn't just a manager. He was THE manager who had the respect of just about all of his peers and every player who put on a pair of boots.

Through the years his mere presence on the touchline and those mind games gave United a goal start against many sides even before kick-off!

And you wonder why they kept on winning. Doing it all the while in that free flowing, all or nothing glorious fight to the finish style demanded by Ferguson, whose footballing principles are worthy of admiration.

He changed the landscape of the game in England, ending the dominance of Liverpool before seeing off challenges from Leeds, Blackburn, Arsenal, Chelsea and this season Manchester City.

He transformed United making them into one of the mightiest institutions on the planet today.

And he turned players like Peter Schmeichel, Roy Keane, Eric Cantona, Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Scholes (his top five in my book) into world class performers.

Like him or not, you are going to miss him.

It is true you know, we will never see his like again.

Ferguson has been in charge at Old Trafford for 27 years. These days most bosses don't last 27 months!

And if Moyes doesn't win a trophy in that time, he'll be one of them.

Having arrived from Scotland, where with Aberdeen he obliterated the challenge of the Old Firm, Sir Alex's first match in charge of United was at the now demolished Manor Ground in Oxford on November 8, 1986. His last game will be at the Hawthorns against West Brom on May 19, 2013.

In between he has inspired United to 13 Premier League titles, two Champions Leagues, one World Club Championship, five FA Cups, four League Cups and countless other pieces of silverware. In total in club management he has won an extraordinary 49 trophies.

His only regret I feel will be that he should have triumphed in Europe's biggest competition more than twice. Liverpool fans were never slow to remind him on his trips to Anfield that the legendary Bob Paisley won it THREE times.

Those who have got to know Ferguson down the decades will tell you he is a great man as well as a great manager, never shy in helping charities or those down on their luck.

Certainly he was always good to Northern Ireland, making regular visits, though his handling of the media did leave a lot to be desired at times. I wouldn't claim to know him at all, but curiously on Who Wants to be a Millionaire I was once a 'Phone a Friend' for Sir Alex and Eamonn Holmes, after a request from the latter.

I wasn't used. Fergie opted for his coach Brian McClair instead to answer a question about The Good Life. He has enjoyed that in his 71 years on this earth.

Here's hoping this sporting giant has many more to come.

Happy retirement Sir Alex... and on behalf of all those Liverpool, City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs fans out there, don't even think about coming back!

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