It was announced today that Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is to retire at the end of this season, bringing to an end an incredibly successful 27 seasons in charge during which he has become Britain’s most successful football manager. Ferguson goes out on a high after winning this season’s Premier League title.
In a statement Ferguson said: “The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about and one that I have not taken lightly. It is the right time. It was important to me to leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so.
“As for my players and staff, past and present, I would like to thank them all for a staggering level of professional conduct and dedication that has helped to deliver so many memorable triumphs. Without their contribution the history of this great club would not be as rich. In my early years, the backing of the board, and Sir Bobby Charlton in particular, gave me the confidence and time to build a football club, rather than just a football team.
"Over the past decade, the Glazer family have provided me with the platform to manage Manchester United to the best of my ability and I have been extremely fortunate to have worked with a talented and trustworthy chief executive in David Gill. I am truly grateful to all of them
"To the fans, thank you. The support you have provided over the years has been truly humbling. It has been an honour and an enormous privilege to have had the opportunity to lead your club and I have treasured my time as manager of Manchester United."
Ferguson will take up a role as a club director and ambassador, similar to the role Sir Bobby Charlton currently has within the club.
Almost immediately there was intense speculation as to who Ferguson’s replacement would be. That person will be Everton manager David Moyes, with reports here in England stating that Moyes will be formally appointed tomorrow (9th May) with a view to starting on July 1st, the day after his Everton contract expires.
It is believed that Moyes was Ferguson’s choice to succeed him as manager. The two have always enjoyed a good relationship; Ferguson once tried to appoint Moyes as his assistant and has spoken of his admiration of Moyes’ managerial abilities. Moyes has also spoken of seeking Ferguson’s advice on several occasions during his reign at Everton.
Reports say that Jose Mourinho was never seriously considered for the job as there is supposedly a deal already in place for him to return to Chelsea in the summer.
Ferguson being in an ambassadorial role could be a problem for Moyes if he decides to be hands-on. Following such a successful manager would be difficult enough, but having Ferguson still at the club could make things even more difficult, especially if Moyes gets off to a slow start and is under pressure.
However, I don’t think that will be the case. I think Ferguson as an ambassador will be a good arrangement for both Manchester United and Ferguson. Ferguson is the perfect man to represent Manchester United to their sponsors globally, and Ferguson will be able to enjoy a lot of the perks he had as manager without any of the stress. I very much doubt Ferguson will interfere with the day to day management of the team, unless Moyes asks for his input, as he wouldn’t have stood for it when he was manager and wouldn’t expect any other manager to put up with it either.
There’s a lot to admire about David Moyes. Under Moyes, Everton have gone from being a side that regularly battled against relegation to a side that regularly challenge for European places. Everton are an extremely well organised team that always seem to give themselves a chance to win every game; it’s rare to see Everton beaten by more than two goals.
Also, the chaotic finances at Everton have meant that quite often, Moyes has had a very limited budget to spend to players. Moyes has countered this by becoming very adept at finding players that fit his system perfectly at bargain prices, as well as bringing through a lot of youth team players to become first-team regulars. It’s probably testament to Moyes’ ability to find players suited to his style of play that only a very small proportion of the players he’s sold that have gone on to be a success elsewhere.
Moyes’ efforts at Everton over the past 11 seasons haven’t gone unnoticed. Moyes has regularly been linked to other Premier League jobs over the past few seasons and it always seemed to be a matter of when Moyes would take one of them rather than if he would. There have been suggestions all season that Moyes was starting to get frustrated by the financial restrictions imposed upon him, he has not extended his contract beyond this season, and that he would be ready to move on from Everton this summer if the right opportunity became available.
However, there’s also a lot about Moyes that will give United fans cause for concern. For all the good work he’s done at Everton, the harsh reality is that in 11 years he hasn’t won a trophy and reached only one final in that time. Add to that the fact that in that time he hasn’t won a single game at Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge, Anfield or the Emirates. So it remains to be seen how a squad packed full of players that have won multiple trophies will react to a manager who has not tasted success.
Moyes may be an experienced hand when it comes to the Premier League, but is a relative novice in Europe. The Champions League is always a major focus for United every season, but Moyes has only managed in the competition once, with Everton failing to qualify for the group stage. Moyes never seemed to take the Europa League too seriously; under him, Everton were in the Europa League four times and never got any further than the last 16.
Also, Moyes is used to only having a relatively small squad to work with, so isn’t too experienced at rotating players, which is something he’d have to do at Man United. There’s also the significant matter of his relationship with Wayne Rooney. Their relationship broke down when Rooney was still at Everton, and deteriorated to the point that Moyes ended up successfully suing Rooney for libel for comments made in Rooney’s autobiography. Rooney subsequently apologised to Moyes and on the surface at least, it looks as though they buried the hatchet, but Moyes’ arrival won’t stop the already-swirling rumours of Rooney’s departure from United.
There’s also the matter of that many Everton fans won’t be as sad to see Moyes go as you might think they would be. The feeling amongst many Evertonians is that Moyes is too cautious and conservative as a manager, playing a physical, defensive style of football, which isn’t what Man United fans are used to seeing. Two words that come up a lot when Evertonians discuss Moyes are ‘unimaginative’ and ‘negative’.
Evertonians also complain about a perceived lack of tactical variation both in the way he sets his teams up going into a game and the changes he makes during the game. A common complaint is the way Moyes uses substitutions, which many Evertonians say he makes either too late in the game to be effective, or are substitutions that feel rehearsed rather than thought out.
The initial reaction to Moyes’ appointment from United fans is mixed. Many United fans are disappointed that it’s not a bigger-name manager with a proven record of winning trophies and European success. There are just as many though, who think Moyes is a great appointment and think he’s the right man to replace Ferguson
Moyes certainly has the ability to succeed at Manchester United. It’s hard to see him succeeding immediately though, and that means that United fans, who have been spoiled with success for a long time, may have to be prepared to put up with a transitional season while the team and Moyes adapt to each other.
Sir Alex Ferguson will be remembered as British football’s most successful manager. He won an incredible 49 trophies in his career, including his time in charge of St. Mirren and Aberdeen in Scotland. I always thought Ferguson’s biggest strength was his the way he always made sure he was up to date on new coaching techniques and philosophies, which, despite his age, allowed him to stay ahead of the curve.
In English football this season, 53 managers have lost their jobs. Patience is an increasingly rare commodity amongst Chairmen and owners of football clubs. This means that it’s highly unlikely that a manager will be able to last anywhere near as long as Ferguson has and it’s even more unlikely that his trophy haul will ever be challenged for a long, long time.
Love him or hate him, you have to admire what he’s done at Manchester United; and even the biggest Ferguson hater would admit it’ll sure be weird without him next season.