So the season is now in full swing and the clash many have been waiting for comes at Old Trafford on Monday night. Yes, Jose Mourinho may be back, but there will be one glaring omission from the home dug out. Alex Ferguson is of course retired and his place will be taken by successor David Moyes. Handpicked, yes but can he have the Fergie effect?
It is no small exaggeration to say that the footballing community went into a period of mourning after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. You thought snow in England brought the country to a standstill? That is nothing compared to the reaction when Fergie finally called time on his illustrious career.
When the rumours first broke, fans and players alike refused to believe the news that Manchester United legend Alex Ferguson was set to announce his retirement. A joke some thought. A mind game others claimed. Even the announcement of David Moyes as his number two was a more popular theory. Never retirement though.
The man himself had claimed just the weekend before that he had no plans to leave the helm of the club he loved more than anything in the world and if anything was looking forward to next season and the return of sparring partner Jose Mourinho.
After silencing noisy neighbours Manchester City in emphatic style, Fergie seemed to have European glory in his sights for next season and the host of names linked with the club to achieve that was nothing short of mouth watering. The hunger seemed to be there and despite a hip problem, so did the health.
Cue the stunning announcement that the man himself would be ‘moving upstairs’ to join the board whilst a new manager was set to be appointed – within the next 48 hours. The bookies favourite David Moyes took the reigns after being handpicked by Charlton and Fergie himself, despite Jose Mourinho being, at that time, available. The image of Roman Abramovich frantically trying to fedex a contract and pen over to Madrid sharpish before his top target for the summer decided that the red of Manchester was better than the blue of Chelsea was certainly one that a few people found amusing.
No matter who you support, the loss of Fergie from the touchline is going to be massive factor to come to terms with this season and whilst fourth officials may well be breathing sighs of relief fans will certainly find it takes some getting used to. Games may be shorter but even City fans must admit that whilst it might increase their chances of winning a significant trophy next season, the Old Trafford legend will be missed.
Were there any clues we missed in the run up to this? Moyes staling on a new Everton deal perhaps. Howard Webb showing he had already upped and jumped ship when he sent Da Silva off against Chelsea? Most definitely.
In all seriousness, twenty seven years is a magnificent achievement in any job but to be a manager of a top club for that length of time is simply spell binding. Add to that the fact that Fergie has won 49 trophies including the treble capped off on that monumental night against Bayern Munich. He won with kids, with a team no one thought capable of winning titles, saw out takeovers and even took the title back from the Special One. Not to mention terrified journalists and players alike and was even involved in pizzagate after breaking the invincible’s record of 49 games unbeaten. The Scotsman is quite simply one of a kind and the greatest British manager ever. To call Alex Ferguson an institution is no exaggeration and love him or hate him, we may never see another manager build a dynasty like it.
Whilst United fans may well now be sat holding their breath to see what the up and coming season will bring, let us remember that Fergie is only moving upstairs and given Paul Scholes came back to help United in their hour of need, one must wonder what the odds are on Fergie doing the same. Back by Christmas? United fans seem to be spending their time hoping so. Well that and searching for the relevant help line to call.