Sir Alex Ferguson: Why Manchester United Boss Might Choose to Retire Now

Max TowleAnalyst IMay 7, 2013

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - MARCH 30:  Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson looks on before the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Manchester United at Stadium of Light on March 30, 2013 in Sunderland, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Stu Forster/Getty Images

There is a growing fear in the northwest of England today with the news that long-serving Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson may be on the verge of retirement (via The Guardian).

As the club's players gathered for a day of golf at Dunham Massey, word spread that there was an imminent announcement to be made about the Scotsman's future.

With the media vultures circling, United's press department remained suspiciously quiet Tuesday night.

Fergie has been in charge of the Red Devils for 27 years, claiming unprecedented success, both domestically and on the continent, during that time.

He has won 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two Champions League trophies. His reputation as the greatest manager in the history of the game is deserved.

Without wanting to be accused of fear-mongering, and acknowledging that his retirement is something that no fan in their right mind would desire, here are a few reasons why the rumours may be true.

Health Concerns

Many shrugged off the news that Sir Alex Ferguson was to undergo hip surgery this summer as an innocuous inevitability of age.

He has had health concerns before—most significantly in 2004, when he had a heart pacemaker fitted. But he has soldiered on, his love for the game too strong.

In the past, he has always said that his health would be the primary factor, should he retire.

At 71 years of age, and in such a high-pressure, intensely scrutinised position, any flare-up is sure to cause him genuine concern for his ability to continue in the role.

The hip surgery is expected to see him miss the beginning of next season—certainly the Community Shield on 11 August, and most likely the opening weekend of the Premier League season a week later.

He is a reasonable man; he will make his own decision, for better or worse, regardless of how much he'll miss the game or how much we'll miss him.

Going Out Strong

This is not the best Manchester United team of the Premier League era, not by a long shot.

But it is one that is well set up to maintain a domestic dominance that has seen the side win five of the last seven league titles.

Young players such as David de Gea, Rafael and Phil Jones are potentially world-class, while Michael Carrick, Nemanja Vidic and Robin van Persie are currently at their peak.

This title-winning campaign was not the finest in the club's history, but it was a lesson in cool efficiency—the product of a winning mentality derived from the man himself.

Champions League disappointment tinged the campaign. The Daily Post writer Andy Mitten opined that Fergie's "floored reaction after the Real Madrid defeat was an indication to some that he took it so badly because he knew it would be his last shot at a third Champions League."

In his programme notes before Sunday's defeat to Chelsea, the Scotsman seemed to brush off the speculation before it had even arisen (via The Telegraph).

"I certainly don’t have any plans at the moment to walk away from what I believe will be something special," he said. "We will get better and if we apply ourselves in our normal fashion, I see our 20th league title as nothing but the start of another decade of success."

However, he did end the blurb saying, "It’s always difficult in football to be absolutely sure of the future because the game has a habit of tripping you up, but I don’t live in a fantasy world."

Was this a hint, immediate or otherwise?

The Silence Builds Suspicion

It may seem a little paranoid of me, but the manner in which the Manchester United press department has handled the sudden surge of speculation is suspicious.

If Sir Alex had no plans to retire, they would surely wish to squash the talk immediately—if only to prevent the financial position of the club being damaged.

Per The Telegraph:

With United now forced to adhere to the strict rules and regulations of the New York Stock Exchange in terms of the release of significant information relating to the running of the club following last August’s partial flotation, any change of management would fall within those requirements.

Speculation as significant as this, reported by the most trusted British newspapers, must hold some semblance of truth.

The news came out of nowhere, but the manner in which Sir Alex carries himself has always indicated that this would be the case.

He would announce it before the season's end, preventing gossip from overshadowing the team over the course of the following summer.

If he is to retire, expect a replacement to be named within the next two or three days. This is the most well-run club in the world, after all.

Of course, these are just the reasons for why Sir Alex might retire—there are equally justifiable points to be made for the other side of the argument.

At present, we are talking about speculation—about rumours.

Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement would be the biggest football news story in recent memory—bigger than Cristiano Ronaldo leaving Old Trafford, bigger than any game or dramatic final day of a Premier League season.

The list of potential suitors—Jose Mourinho, David Moyes, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ryan Giggs—would become the most discussed figures in the country.

Nothing is written, and an announcement is yet to be made.

But this time, it feels as if it's for real.

Do you think Sir Alex will announce his retirement this year?


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