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Manchester United's Northern Irish fans react to the news they dreaded - Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement

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MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 22:  Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson and United fans look on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford on April 22, 2012 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 22: Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson and United fans look on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford on April 22, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Alex Livesey

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 22: Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson and United fans look on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford on April 22, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

An outpouring of grief has followed the shock retirement of legendary Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

Fans in Northern Ireland expressed devastation at the news their Old Trafford hero is stepping down at the end of the season.

Scott Jamison, from Belfast, said: "It almost feels like a death.

"You knew it had to come some day but it's a shock that it's happened now.

"I remember watching us throw away the league in '92 and thinking we'd never win it again, so for all that success to follow is something else

"It's not hyperbole to say he's been responsible for some of the greatest moments of my life."

David Munnis, from Cloughmills, said: "I've never known any other manager at the helm of Manchester United.

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"It's a scary, bold new world going forward. But thank you Sir Alex Ferguson for the memories - '99 at the Nou Camp, and Moscow.

"I would love to see Ryan Giggs step up, or fellow Scotsman David Moyes."

Fans Rory McIlroy and Eamonn Holmes were among the stars who paid public tribute to Sir Alex, McIlroy tweeting: "An end of an era today! Sir Alex Ferguson, the greatest of all time! United will have a tough time trying to replace him!"

Holmes said: "Sir Alex - how do you follow that? Thanks for the memories, the trophies, the spats, the entertainment, the passion and the chewing gum... But most of all thanks for The Impossible Dream and Fergie Time!"

Manchester United has a huge supporters' base in the province - thanks largely to East Belfast's George Best, who scored 179 goals in 11 years with the club.

Ralph Graham, from Belfast, reflected: "Fergie's greatest achievement was building team after team and still winning titles on a consistent basis.

"And if it's between Moyes or Mourinho, I'd definitely prefer the latter!"

Christopher McCullough, from Maghaberry, said: "I feel like a part of Manchester United has changed, forever.

"It's a complete shock but I understand why he wants to go now, after the 20th league title and a young squad of players."

And as speculation grew over David Moyes' appointment as the next manager, Jonathan Martin, from Ballysillan, said: "Do we want Mourinho for the short term, a season or two? Or David Moyes for 5 to 10 seasons? I'm for the latter."


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