An era ended up at Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson is retiring at the end of this season, The biggest candidate will replace David Moyes.
Ferguson’s United future was shrouded in doubt on Tuesday night with the Scot understood to be giving serious consideration to ending his 26-year reign as manager.
As rumours of the 71-year-old’s imminent retirement swept Manchester, senior figures at the club failed to respond to repeated attempts to confirm or deny the story, which emerged following United’s player versus coaches golf day at Dunham Massey on Tuesday afternoon.
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.
A number of stories in Wednesday’s national newspapers claim the 71-year-old – Britain’s most successful manager – is thinking about retirement.
The rumours have been fuelled by the absence of any comment from the club, which has previously strongly denied he would depart at the end of the season.
Writing in his programme notes ahead of last Sunday’s Premier League defeat by Chelsea, Ferguson had hailed the club’s 20th league title overall and 13th in his time at the helm.
“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,” he said.
“Whether I will be here to oversee another decade of success remains to be seen, but I certainly don’t have any plans at the moment to walk away from what I believe will be something special and worth being around to see.”
Some newspapers say Ferguson may make an announcement before United play Swansea on Sunday.
The club is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, which requires that a company releases significant information that relates to how it is run.
And further weight has been lent to the claims by United’s confirmation last week that Sir Alex Ferguson had been booked in for hip surgery in August, after the club’s pre-season tour.
The timing of the operation appeared strange, as it is believed he could have undergone the procedure immediately following the end of this season.
Then on Tuesday, bookmakers slashed the odds on David Moyes replacing Ferguson amid reports the Everton manager would spend a season as his fellow Scot’s assistant.
Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho is also being touted as a potential successor.
United’s league title this season is Ferguson’s 49th piece of silverware.
In 27 years at Old Traford, he has guided the club to 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cup wins and the Champions League twice.
Ryan Giggs, the club’s longest-serving player, told SiriusXM FC: “I don’t expect many changes, but the manager looks to strengthen where he can, whether we have lost a league or won it.
“He never stands still. He always wants to better the team.”
Sir Alex Ferguson Retirement:Sir Alex “is it right time for retire”
ir Alex Ferguson has said it is “the right time” to retire as Manchester United manager after 26-and-a-half-years.
“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,” Ferguson said.
“It was important to me to leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so. The quality of this league winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level whilst the structure of the youth set-up will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains a bright one.
“Our training facilities are amongst the finest in global sport and our home Old Trafford is rightfully regarded as one of the leading venues in the world.
“Going forward, I am delighted to take on the roles of both Director and Ambassador for the club. With these activities, along with my many other interests, I am looking forward to the future.
“I must pay tribute to my family, their love and support has been essential. My wife Cathy has been the key figure throughout my career, providing a bedrock of both stability and encouragement. Words are not enough to express what this has meant to me.
“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.”
he manager, who has been at the club for 26 years, said in a statement: “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.”
The club has not not immediately announced a successor.
The Scotsman secured his 13th Premier League title with Manchester United two weeks ago and is the most successful manager in British football history.
Ferguson, 71, will stay at the club as a director and an ambassador, but now has just two games left with the famous club.
“With these activities, along with my many other interests, I am looking forward to the future,” Ferguson said.
“I must pay tribute to my family, their love and support has been essential.”
“Fergie steps aside as the greatest figure in football management – there’ll be a very long queue of managers seeking to replace him,” he said.
“I’m sure they have a succession plan in place – in fact they have talked about it in the past.”
He added: “They will be looking for a man of great experience at the highest European level … Mourinho is about a guaranteed as you can get.”