Should Manchester United Fear Falling Behind City Now Alex Ferguson Is Gone?
It will have been a comfort to some of Manchester United's rivals when Sir Alex Ferguson finally announced his retirement this summer.
There will have been hope among them that, without him, his empire might crumble.
For 20 years, they have flattened anyone who has got in their way.
Ferguson has deprived each of those clubs of trophies at one time or another. And some will believe the tables could now turn in Ferguson's absence.
History shows that it's possible.
Kenny Dalglish led Liverpool to three league titles in 1986, 1988 and 1990. He unexpectedly resigned in 1991, and Liverpool haven't won the league since.
But those hoping for something similar to happen at Old Trafford may be waiting a long time.
What they might not have noticed is that, as well as winning Premier League crowns, FA Cups and Champions League titles, Ferguson has spent the last 26 years preparing the club for his departure.
He's also benefitted from good fortune.
He made United successful at a time when chairman, and television companies, were only just realising the potential of the product they had.
In the 21 years since the Premier League's inception in 1992, television revenues have grown and grown. The last TV deal alone was worth £3 billion.
As the league's star turn, United are well-placed to squeeze every last penny out of the commercial opportunities.
During the 2012-13 season, 25 of their 38 games were televised—the highest number of the 20 clubs. Each time, they were beamed into 600 million homes in more than 200 countries.
But Ferguson's legacy is about more than money.
And as well as the luck, there has been plenty of shrewd judgement.
He has revolutionised the club's youth policy, ensuring the stars of the future are already on the production line at Carrington.
Youth team players at United around the time of Ferguson's appointment in 1986 talk of the new manager from Aberdeen instantly making himself visible to the youngsters as they trained at The Cliff.
That was in stark contrast to Ferguson's predecessor, Ron Atkinson, who they rarely saw.
Ferguson will not get the benefit of Adnan Januzaj, Will Keane and Jack Barmby. But they are welcome gifts for David Moyes.
So too are David de Gea, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Wilfried Zaha. They were all signed by Ferguson, but not one is older than 23.
As he shook hands with each of them for the first time, he knew he would never see the finished articles.
That's something for the future.
Sir Alex was phenomenally successful at Old Trafford.
He won 13 Premier League titles, the Champions League twice, five FA Cups, four League Cups, 10 Charity Shields, the Cup Winners' Cup, Super Cup, Intercontinental Cup and Club World Cup.
He was named Manager of the Year 10 times and won 27 Manager of the Month awards.
We may never see his like again.
It's only natural, then, that United might suffer a dip without him.
It's unrealistic to expect a new man to come in and pick up from where the greatest British manager left off.
It will take time for Moyes to make his mark, and in the meantime City will almost certainly win things given their new financial might.
But that doesn't mean it's the end for United's reign as top dogs. Or that they've been replaced by City or anyone else.
Ferguson has made sure the foundations of his empire are set in concrete rather than built on sand.
United are here to stay.
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