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Football? Bloody hell. Goodbye Fergie

SAF2-doctor-sir-alex-ferguson-25028160-416-300This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end.

It is, indeed the end. It was the Fergie time none of us wanted. It was the news we didn’t want to hear, read, see or, for that matter, believe. On Sunday 19th of May, after 1500 games and 38 trophies Sir Alex Ferguson will step down from his post as manager of Manchester United Football Club.

It was also, fittingly, a glorious end, United having wrestled the title back from City’s grasp, steamrolling opponents on their way to their 20th league title but that or the fact the possibility of retirement had been increasingly branded around in recent months will not make today’s events one bit less numbing.

As an extension of life, sport is perhaps even more unforgiving, for very few are allowed the privilege to bow out on a high as Sir Alex has done, but it is a privilege the Scot deserves more than anybody else, after spending 26 and a half incredibly successful years in charge of Manchester United.

We will never know if, in the back of his mind, when Robin Van Persie thumped home his volley against Aston Villa, Sir Alex felt a tinge of sadness at the thought of his reign coming to an end or if he was, as widely reported, really planning ahead of a new season.

Only the man himself knows if this decision was down to health, lack of motivation or the prospect of working without his close friend David Gill, also due to depart the club this summer. Similarly there won’t be a way to establish if he’ll be filled with nostalgia at  casting one last glance at one of the banners that adorn Old Trafford, which reads “Sir Alex, the impossible dream made true”.

An impossible dream it was indeed, one that took shape over 26 years from that day in November 1986 when the then former Aberdeen manager was appointed in charge of Manchester United. An emotional, momentous, trip that brought United to heights many had not dared dreaming of.

His appointment came in an era characterised by crumbling terraces and players who considered drinking a way to bond with their team-mates, his finest moment arrived when Napster was launched and his retirement was announced in an era when people wouldn’t consider leaving their flat without a smartphone.

That alone should offer a pretty clear picture of the monumental achievement Fergie has mastered. Winning 13 Premier League titles, two European Cups, five FA Cups and four League Cups is a feat highly unlikely to be repeated, as is a reign of such longevity.

Perhaps Fergie’s greatest achievement was his ability to conquer and understand three different generations. Of players, through his constant desire to win and improve which led to teams being continuously rebuilt over the years and of fans who, no matter their age, could identify with Sir Alex, his winning mentality and his love for the club.

Manchester-United-v-Reading-Sir-Alex-Ferguson_2902828Of course, like in every perfect story, there were sour moments. From the pressure he was under in his first three years at the club, to his refusal to lower his standards even for players who were not only pivotal to the club but also idolised by the fans.

His belligerence towards the system didn’t win him any support aside from the United fans, who also felt let down when Sir Alex famously advised them to “go and watch Chelsea” as the discontent following the Glazers takeover grew louder and the Govan’s socialist we had always considered one of our own, had decided to side with some foreign millionaires.

Losing two Champions League finals to Barcelona was a hard blow to take, as was the stubborn defiance in addressing some of the team’s evident weak links, while United fans became accustomed to puzzling team selections and an attitude that many perceived to be too conservative and distant from the ethos of the club.

That aside, though, the feeling of emptiness and sadness is widespread today. For those who saw Sir Alex as the man who finally restored the glory days at Old Trafford to those who, like myself, have been alive for as long as Sir Alex has been at the club and for the younger ones who might not have grasped the magnitude of the event yet.

The club will, of course, move on, as it always has even in darker times. Conscious of the rough seas United had to navigate after Sir Matt Busby’s retirement, Fergie has not only chosen his successor, but also presented him with a talented, young squad which, while requiring some quality addition, should be challenging for trophies in the foreseeable future.

Furthermore, as Sir Alex himself stressed in many occasions: “Nobody is bigger than Manchester United” and nor they should be, but the harsh truth is that we’re going to miss him dramatically. His celebrations on the touchline, his finger pointing at his watch, his mind games and the attitude he instilled in every single one of his teams for Fergie did not only define his teams or the club, he defined British football over three decades.

Thanks for everything Sir Alexander Chapman Ferguson.You’ve brought unbelievable joy to our hearts and you’ve made this 25-year-old one of the happiest person in the world throughout my first quarter of a century.

It’s been a privilege.

Football ha? Bloody hell.

Dan (@MUFC_dan87)

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