Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Schmeichel: Fergie departure a bombshell

Peter Schmeichel, right, was 'disappointed and very sad' after hearing of Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to retire
Peter Schmeichel, right, was 'disappointed and very sad' after hearing of Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to retire

Former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel has described Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to retire as manager at the end of the season as a "bombshell" and that he "can't make sense of the timing".

Ferguson on Wednesday announced he would leave his position, but stay on as a director and ambassador after 26 years in charge at Old Trafford and the Dane who played under the Scot for nine years could not believe that the 71-year-old was leaving his position.

"I'm shocked - I just can't make sense of the timing," he told Sky Sports News. "It has come as a bombshell, I really don't know what to make of it."

He added: "Yesterday I was really happy with what he had done this season, now this, I'm disappointed and very sad.

"He's always said the day would come when something in his life wasn't right, is it is hip operation (he will have this summer)? I can't see him retiring over that. (Until) he explains why, we can guess and guess. There is something there we don't know about, he won't retire for the sake of retiring, it is difficult to makes sense of it."

Schmeichel spoke about the time Ferguson came to the stopper, just hours after being told he would not be signing for United. He added: "The thing about Sir Alex is that 95 per cent of players brought in he's been scouting them for a long time, and he handles personalities around football, for example the media, stuff like that very, very important to him.

"Everyone wants a bit of Manchester United, everywhere you go, you are Manchester United. My move didn't happen first time, it happened 12 months later. But the first time, he came over to Denmark, I met him at someone's house and it was him saying 'I just want you to develop I will come back in the summer', and he flew back to Manchester. That's the kind of guy he is."

Former United striker Dwight Yorke, who played under Ferguson between 1998 and 2002 and was part of the 1999 treble-winning side, feels a combination of factors led the Scot to call it a day at the age of 71.

He told Sky Sports News: "The people within the football club knew this was likely to happen this season. And I think with his hip replacement (booked in for late July), with David Gill going as well, that sort of pushed him to say 'this might be the best time for me to retire'."

Former player Paul Ince described Ferguson as one of a kind. Blackpool boss Ince told Sky Sports News: "He's done the lot, you will never see anyone of his kind again. I remember the first day that I joined Man Utd. I failed my medical and I thought my move to Man Utd was going to collapse. The way he treated me was like a son and I will never forget that moment."

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