Perhaps it was all too much this past weekend when Manchester United darling Howard Webb had the audacity to send off a United player against Chelsea, but Sir Alex Ferguson is retiring at season’s end. The Scotsman has managed United since 1986, and brought home 38 trophies including 13 Premier League titles, 2 Champion’s Leagues and the Treble in 1999 for which he was Knighted. These accomplishments are a part of history, engraved on trophies and medals, accessible by internet in a few short key strokes.
He has presided over United as a Patriarch of hundreds of footballing sons, from tens of nations, and of every conceivable personality type…Keane, Cantona, Ferdinand, Beckham, Scholes, Giggs, Ince, Rooney, Van Nistelroy, Tevez, Ronaldo, and Chicharito. All have passed through his family, served it with distinction and imprinted on it’s glorious tradition, but he has been the heart and the soul.
Flush cheeks barking from the touchline, he often appears a bellicose hard ass of a past era, but his man management has proven many fold more sophisticated. He protected and nurtured Becks through the fallout of his red card in ’98, saw through the maturation of Ronaldo from self-indulgent trickster to World Player of the Year recognition, and seemlessly handled Ronaldo and Rooney’s return of the 2006 World Cup when Rooney was red carded at the apparent insistence of his club mate.
His legacy is best understood though in the final fifteen minutes plus injury time of a close match. It matters not in that span the opponent or even particular identity of the eleven in red, but the palpable sense that his team will as it so often did find a way to get a result.