Alex Ferguson retires as Manchester United manager
(CNN) -- English soccer's most successful manager --
Manchester United's Alex Ferguson -- is retiring at the end of the
season after more than a quarter of a century at the helm, the club
The 71-year-old Scot has managed the English club, which is listed
on the New York Stock Exchange and has millions of fans around the
world, since 1986.
During his 26 years in charge, Ferguson -- a supporter of Britain's
Labour Party who's renowned for dressing down players with the
"hairdryer treatment" -- has won more than 30 trophies, including
13 league championships.
Ferguson will bow out after the club's last game of the season, an
away match against West Bromwich Albion, on May 19, according to a
statement from Manchester United.
Watch: Alex Ferguson's legacy
Before then he will have one more home game at Old Trafford Sunday,
against Swansea City.
It's not clear who Manchester United will choose to replace him.
Ferguson will join the club's board as a director and "ambassador,"
Manchester United 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 organization in the strongest
possible shape and I believe I have done so."
The quality of the team, the balance of the players' ages and its
upcoming youth squad will contribute to its continued "success at
the highest level" and "ensure that the long-term future of the
club remains a bright one."
Ferguson paid tribute to the club's "players and staff, past and
present," thanking them "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."
He also expressed gratitude to his family and the club's many
supporters, at home and abroad.
Many fans took to Twitter to voice their appreciation, using the
handle #thankyousiralex. He was knighted by the queen more than a
decade ago for his services to the game.
Alex Ferguson's Man U
1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001,
2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013
1990, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2004
1992, 2006, 2009, 2010
Fifa Club World
1990 (shared), 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2007,
2008, 2010, 2011
Gavin Hamilton, editor of World Soccer magazine, told CNN he
considered Ferguson to be unsurpassed as a manager in his time.
"In the modern era, where's he's dealt with the players on huge
salaries and the corporate world that is now football, he has had
extraordinary success," he said.
"He's tough and uncompromising and, I think, completely dedicated
to being a winner."
Whoever takes over at Old Trafford has a hard act to follow,
Hamilton said -- but Manchester United will have been planning
carefully for this moment.
"There will definitely be someone in place, I think -- the big
question now is who that person will be because it's been kept a
secret from everyone until now," he said.
Whoever it will be has a daunting, if exciting, prospect ahead.
"It's the largest football club in the world, it's the biggest
management job in the world, and on top of that is the task of
following the most successful manager in the club's history," said
Bookmakers are already taking bets on who will fill Ferguson's
Names at the top of the list include Portuguese manager Jose
Mourinho, formerly of Chelsea and currently at Real Madrid, and
Everton manager David Moyes.
Other names in the mix include Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen
Klopp, Michael Laudrup of Swansea City and former Manchester United
striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, currently managing Norwegian team
Fans' thoughts are bound to turn quickly to the 2013-2014 season,
starting in September, as Manchester United prepares to defend its
domestic title and attempt another win in Europe.
As recently as last week, Ferguson suggested that he was fully
involved in those future plans, promising the club would be
"competitive" in the summer transfer market.
Speaking to Inside United, the club's official magazine, Ferguson
said: "Hopefully the players we bring into the club in the next
year or so will be of the quality we need."
Manchester United coasted to this year's English Premier League
title with a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa in April, with four games
Ferguson is due to undergo hip surgery this summer, according to UK
media reports, but it's not clear how much of a role health
concerns have played in his decision to stand down.
"I think retirement's for young people because you can do something
else. When you get to my age, if your health is good, you like to
work," he told CNN in a 2010 interview.
Sports writer Mihir Bose said he was surprised by the timing of
Ferguson's decision, despite his upcoming surgery, saying he had
expected him to carry on as manager for another couple of
Ferguson -- who was seen as a kind of father figure by some of the
young players he developed -- had "that ability to reach out to
people," said Bose, but he was also a skilled political
"He could be delightful but he was a man who made sure that he
controlled the agenda," he told CNN. "If you crossed his path he
made it very clear that he controlled everything at Manchester
Those who got the famous "hairdryer treatment" -- loud shouting
directly in someone's face -- included many sports journalists over
the years. Ferguson would also refuse to speak to reporters if he
didn't like what they said.
Despite that thorny relationship, Ferguson will be remembered as an
iconic figure in English football history, said Bose. The big
challenge now is how Manchester United will manage the transition
to ensure continued success, he added.
'A sad day'
Former Manchester United and Denmark goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel
told CNN he was still trying to make sense of the news.
"It is a sad day. I'm shocked, I'm sad, I'm disappointed. It's a
day I think everyone who loves Manchester United, everyone who's
worked with Sir Alex -- it's a day that we've been expecting, but I
have to be honest I didn't think it would be now -- I thought it
would be a couple of years down the line."
Schmeichel said he was certain that Ferguson had not been forced
out but had made the decision himself, given his record of success
and changes already happening on the club's board this summer.
He paid tribute to Ferguson's knowledge, skills and philosophy as a
manager, particularly his ability to bring on young players.
Internationally known footballers like David Beckham, Ryan Giggs,
Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Nicky Butt were all created by
Ferguson, Schmeichel said.
"He is the best manager in the world and he's the best guy as well.
He's a really good friend as well."
Ferguson's talent has been in managing players individually rather
than as a group, Schmeichel said.
"The end result is that everyone plays really well for the team,"
Schmeichel said. "Yes, he can be hard, he can be tough ... In a way
he becomes your second dad. He has to educate you in life, he has
to prepare you for what comes next in life after football."
The Old Trafford club is owned by the American Glazer family, who
oversaw the club's listing on the New York Stock Exchange last
For the 2011-2012 season, United increased revenues by £14.2
million to £117.6 million, the highest of any club in the Premier
"Alex has proven time and time again what a fantastic manager he is
but he's also a wonderful person. His determination to succeed and
dedication to the Club have been truly remarkable," Joel Glazer
David Gill, who will step down as chief executive of Manchester
United in June, said it had been a "tremendous pleasure" to work
alongside Ferguson over the past 16 years.
"We knew that his retirement would come one day and we both have
been planning for it by ensuring the quality of the squad and club
structures are in first class condition," he said.
"Alex's vision, energy and ability have built teams -- both on and
off the pitch -- that his successor can count on as among the best
and most loyal in world sport."
Ferguson began his career on the soccer pitch, playing for Scottish
clubs Queen's Park, St Johnstone, Dunfermline, Glasgow Rangers,
Falkirk and Ayr United.
But it was when he returned to the game as a manager, working at
East Stirlingshire, St Mirren and then Aberdeen that people really
began to take notice.
He led Aberdeen to three Scottish titles, four Scottish cups, one
League Cup and one European Cup Winners' Cup before moving to
Manchester United in November 1986 following the dismissal of
former manager Ron Atkinson.
It didn't take long for the Scotsman to start turning things round
at a club that was then near the bottom of the league.
Since then, Ferguson has dominated the English game -- his string
of victories making him, according to the Manchester United
website, "the most successful manager in British football