One half of Manchester plunged into darkness as Fergie time draws to a close

Moyes, is the firm favourite to take over at Old Trafford

Alex Ferguson revealed his wife Cathy was less than enthusiastic about having him around the house. “She says: ‘If you think I’m looking after you, and you’re going to be in my road every day, you’re not on. So you can get another job, become a milkman’.”

Alex Ferguson revealed his wife Cathy was less than enthusiastic about having him around the house. “She says: ‘If you think I’m looking after you, and you’re going to be in my road every day, you’re not on. So you can get another job, become a milkman’.”

 

It was early last year, when asked if he had any retirement plans, that Alex Ferguson revealed his wife Cathy was less than enthusiastic about having him around the house. “She says: ‘If you think I’m looking after you, and you’re going to be in my road every day, you’re not on. So you can get another job, become a milkman’.”

If he follows her advice, having announced his retirement as Manchester United manager yesterday, the inhabitants of the town of Wilmslow in Cheshire, where he resides, might be a little taken aback to see who’s delivering their pints from this day forth. Although, the odds are somewhat shorter on him spending his days having conversations with David Moyes that start with: ‘I’m not interfering, but . . .’.

Moyes, another Glaswegian and current Everton manager, is the firm favourite to take over at Old Trafford, the mother of all tasks in light of the fact that Ferguson won 49 trophies in a remarkable 27-year reign at the club.


Noisy neighbours
In the same spell, for example, neighbours Manchester City had 14 permanent managers, winning just two major honours, both in the last two years.


Share price drop
In early trading on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday, where the club was floated by its owners the Glazer family last year, United’s share price fell by almost 4 per cent, prompting more than a few commentators to liken the impact on the club of Ferguson’s retirement to the loss felt by one of the world’s leading companies when its leader “moved on”.

“Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson. Apple and Steve Jobs. Will one of the world’s most recognised soccer clubs face the same challenges the world’s technology darling did after the departure of its iconic leader,” asked Fox News, sensitively.

Ferguson, though, is still firmly of this earth, his only known health issue a dodgy hip that will be operated upon soon, and will take up a seat on the board of directors and act as an “ambassador” for the club.

At 71, the man who vowed he would retire at 60 has decided it’s time to let go, bringing to an end a managerial career that is unlikely to be matched.


Grieving fans
“It’s almost like someone’s died,” one grieving United supporter said outside Old Trafford yesterday, and for the under-30 generation, a Manchester United without Ferguson at the helm is unimaginable – largely because they’ve known nothing else.

When he left Aberdeen for United in 1986, the same year Jack Charlton was appointed Republic of Ireland manager, the club hadn’t won the league title since 1967, the gap between his arrival and the end of the drought in 1993 peppered with protests from supporters who wanted him sacked. The board, persuaded by Bobby Charlton, kept the faith, and their reward was great.

It was the former footballer and now radio presenter Alan Brazil who once said of Ferguson, “the man is Manchester United – cut him and he will bleed red.” No one could argue with the claim, really, the second half of it medically indisputable, but the mighty sporting institution, the second richest football club in the world after Real Madrid, now journeys in to uncertain times after his departure.

If the supporters are disconsolate, spare a thought for Cathy as she contemplates a retirement with her husband in her road every day.