The 5 Biggest Questions Posed by Ferguson’s Imminent Retirement

By on May 8, 2013

Hello again folks. Unless you’ve only just recently awoken from a 48 hour coma, you are likely to be well aware that Manchester United manager of 26 years Sir Alex Ferguson will retire at the end of the season. The 71 year old Scot is set to be replaced by current Everton manager David Moyes.

Naturally, this is one of the biggest stories in Premier League history. As such, this transition also provokes several interesting questions, and we’d like to pose a few of our own.

Why now?
Evidently, Ferguson will not have wanted to depart from his beloved club without knowing that its squad remains in rude health. Having just stormed to a 20th title with a team of real versatility and depth, Sir Alex is likely satisfied that United’s future is in safe hands. There are rumours that Ferguson may have been forced to make his decision because of his poor health, but considering the sprightly nature of the hair dryer warrior, we doubt this is the case. There have also been some rumours floating around that Ferguson wanted to retire last season, but decided against it having lost the title to arch rivals City. However you frame it, no-one can begrudge the 71 year old from now stepping aside and into his new director and ambassador role.

Why Moyes?
This will be the primary question that many United fans will be asking. Why David Moyes? First of all, let’s look at the cons of the Everton manager. He’s trophy-less. As in, has won in his career entirely 100% less than Ferguson. Certainly, I understand that it is a little bit unfair to directly compare Moyes and Ferguson considering the stature of the latter gentleman. However, if Moyes is unprepared to be compared with Ferguson, then he is in for the shock of a lifetime. Without a doubt, Moyes’ time at United will always and forever be directly contrasted with Fergie’s. Thus, the comparison stands. Moyes, however you put it and with no disrespect to Everton, is undecorated and entirely untested in a “big club” environment. Certainly, many United fans would be clamouring for the services of Mourinho or Klopp.

Now for the pros. Moyes is 21 years Ferguson’s junior. He has managed to survive and build wholly competitive teams at Everton for 11 years. If it’s longevity and stability that United are looking for, then certainly they’ve got the right man. He’s fiery, passionate, a shrewd manager of finances, and best of all- he’s a Scot. Evidently, he’s a top manager, but he has yet to be truly tested in the pressure cooker environment that he is set to walk in to.

How will Moyes handle the Job?
Above all, this is THE question. Just how will Moyes perform? For all those that jump to support him by suggesting that we focus upon how well he does with limited funds, I pose the following: Does having ten times the funds guarantee ten times the results? Does Moyes now suddenly become ten times the manager?

Moyes must be applauded for how admirably Everton have performed during his tenure there. However, Moyes is set to march straight into the greatest acid test of all time- the trial by fire of trial by fires. What if, and I’m posing this question with the utmost sincerity, United are underperforming during the opening stages of the Premier League next year? What if United sit in 5th or 6th with 10 games played? Will the board hold their nerve? Will the fans? Just as Moyes is set to be tested in a new and potentially uncomfortable environment, so too is the United decision-making hierarchy and the supporters.

And for those that will bark back that United’s board have a far steadier hand than other clubs, I would suggest that it has hardly been a difficult decision for them not to fire Fergie. I doubt results dictated even a thought in that direction. But United are prone to slow starts. Ironically, so are Everton. If that happens, then United will find themselves in a place that they haven’t been since the early years of Ferguson’s reign.

How will the players react?
For many players, this will be an absolute upheaval of everything they’ve ever experienced in the game. Think of the likes of Giggs and Scholes – these players have only ever played for Ferguson in their entire lives. Having another man in the dugout is likely going to be a very strange sensation indeed.

However, there is one player whose reaction will be watched most closely. Wayne Rooney. Rooney played for Moyes at Everton until they fell out, resulting in his departure to United as a young man. When Rooney left Everton, he told Moyes that he never wanted to play for him again. There are suggestions that the two have patched things up, but undoubtedly there is tension there. Rooney has flirted with the idea of leaving Old Trafford for several years, and apparently asked Ferguson for permission to leave only two weeks ago- this could perhaps provide the catalyst for him to finally make his move. United insist that Rooney is not for sale, but the fact remains that they might be under eventual pressure to part ways with the iconic forward.

Further, one mustn’t forget the potential impact that this might have upon transfers. Many players have moved to United in the past simply to have the chance to work under Ferguson. Even though United are the current champions, it is entirely possible that potential signings might want to see how things develop under Moyes before making a move to Manchester.

Will Fergie interfere?
This is hugely important. Ferguson has moved into a directorial and ambassadorial role, which is ultimately a rather vague job description. The point is, Ferguson isn’t completely gone. Again, if United suffer a slow start under Moyes, then the temptation for Ferguson to step in will be strong.

Let’s remember though, that Ferguson is not a fool. He will be well aware that he is no longer the manager and will let Moyes do as he pleases. But it is possible that the club might force his hand, or beg for him to become further involved in some further capacity if all is not well with Moyes.

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