On May 8 2013, legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson brought an end to his mammoth 26-year reign at the club.
May 8, 2013 brought about an annoucement that Manchester United fans wished they would never have to hear. For it was on that day that legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement from the role. The announcement brought an end to a managerial run that spanned 26 years – an incredible feat in modern times. It also saw the departure of a man who many associated with Manchester United. United were always a big side in England; under Ferguson, they became the big side in England. He laid the foundations for their dominance in the 1990s and 2000s. And then built the house too.
Such was the magnitude of the announcement that social media tributes were led by none other than then-British Prime Minister David Cameroon himself.
It’s worth noting that Ferguson’s time in charge wasn’t just notable for the size of his tenure. The sustained success mattered too.
Thirteen league titles. Two Champions League crowns. Five FA Cups. Four League Cups. 38 trophies overall. Most managers would be happy to accomplish half of that over a lifetime. ‘Fergie’, as he was affectionately known, did it at one club.
It’s also worth noting that he had accomplished a lot even before his time at United. He shocked everyone by winning the Scottish title with St. Mirren in 1977.
He then surprised everyone by turning Aberdeen into a force to be reckoned with in Scotland. Celtic and Rangers were the dominant Scottish side but under Ferguson, Aberdeen won three Scottish titles, four Scottish FA Cups and one League Cup.
Ferguson had previously announced his intentions to retire in 2001 before a change of heart. But it was 2013 – right after leading United to their 20th league title – that truly signalled the end of Fergie Time.
It’s safe to say Manchester United have struggled to truly replace the Scot. His successor David Moyes lasted just 10 months in the job, despite being handed a six-year contract.
Veteran Dutch manager Louis van Gaal came in the following season. His time at the club is largely considered a failure, mainly due to the pedantic style of play. Not even an FA Cup win in 2016 could save him from the sack.
Jose Mourinho was then brought in and, in his first season, won the League Cup and Europa League. However, a second-placed league finish was all he managed in the second season before inevitably getting the sack in his third season.
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer then came in, first on an interim and now on a permanent basis. His time has brought a stability to the club that has been missing since the Ferguson heyday.
Whether or not he will usher in a new era of success in the coming years remains to be seen.