Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United now seem like a match made in heaven but you only have to look at that game in January 1990 to see that it wasn’t always like that. United played Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup and Mark Robins scored the goal that launched a thousand trophies, ok maybe not that much but it was an important goal. Robins will tell you he saved Fergie’s job and he was never thanked, Fergie has said that he doesn’t think he was ever as close to unemployment as people like to think. I seem to recall Bobby Charlton saying that the OT board was not about to relieve the manager had they lost that day, it’s a good job they didn’t.
But now we face next season and a Manchester United team without direct involvement from Sir Alex, it’s a new one for many and the truth is we have been very very spoilt at our club because of the character and personality of Sir Alex and what all that has brought the club.
Thank you isn’t much but it’s all we have – thank you for making the right substitution more than you made the wrong one, thank you for believing in life beyond ninety minutes, knowing when to bring players in and when they have had their day, thanks for making Manchester United the team that every collective legend seems to regret leaving even if they believe they are right at the time. If we haven’t always seen the long plan when a favourite has departed, we can only apologise, Hughes in a Chelsea shirt hurt, Beckham in a Real shirt killed, Cantona calling it quits destroyed – but you knew we could build again and we stood behind you.
You knew Shearer wasn’t right, Kluivert would have been wrong and John Hartson, well…
You knew that Eric was worth everything.
You know Manchester United and you know when it’s time to depart.
If Sir Alex and our club seem tied together it’s because they are now, they are forever linked and we are forever thankful, but it’s a legacy that is down to no one but the man himself. Every player to a man has spoken of their belief that he is the best, or amongst the best manager they have played for (Michael Owen thinks that there are a few just as good so that qualifies the statement a little).
He said he would put Manchester United on the perch and knock Liverpool off it. He certainly did that, he leaves us an enormous force within the football world and without it too.
I’ve got absolutely no script in my mind, I’m just going to ramble on and hope I get to the core of what this football club has meant to me.
First of all, it’s a thank you to Manchester United. Not just the directors, not just the medical staff, not just the coaching staff, the players or the supporters, it’s all of you. You have been the most fantastic experience of my life.
I have been very fortunate. I’ve been able to manage some of the greatest players in the country, let alone Manchester United. All these players here today have represented our club the proper way – they’ve won the championship in a fantastic fashion. Well done to the players.
My retirement doesn’t mean the end of my life with the club. I’ll be able to now enjoy watching them rather than suffer with them.
But, if you think about it, those last-minute goals, the comebacks, even the defeats, are all part of this great football club of ours. It’s been an unbelievable experience for all of us, so thank you for that.
I’d also like to remind you that when we had bad times here, the club stood by me, all my staff stood by me, the players stood by me. Your job now is to stand by our new manager. That is important.
Before I start bubbling, I just want to pay tribute to Paul Scholes, who retires today. He’s unbelievable; one of the greatest players this club has ever had and will ever have.
Paul we wish you a good retirement and I know you’ll be around annoying me! Also I’d like to wish Darren Fletcher a speedy comeback to our club.
The players… I wish the players every success in the future. You know how good you are, you know the jersey you’re wearing, you know what it means to everyone here and don’t ever let yourself down. The expectation is always there.
I’m going home, well, I’m going inside for a while, and I want to say thank you again from all the Ferguson family. They’re all up there, 11 grandchildren – thank you.”
Sir Alex Ferguson, speaking after last home game v Swansea. Sunday, May 12th 2013.