I knew it was coming. I had a glimpse of what it would be like over a decade ago when an announcement was made, although the decision then was hastily reversed, but the day has finally arrived. Sir Alex Ferguson has announced his retirement as manager of Manchester United F.C..
There are so many memories of triumph and despair that I’m struggling to put them in any sort of order. The greatest moment must surely be the treble winning last few seconds of the Champions League final in 1999 against Bayern Munich when certain defeat was turned on its head. ‘Football, bloody hell’ was all Ferguson could say when the ITV interviewer shoved a microphone in front of the incredulous manager after the final whistle as MUFC were crowned champions. The victory over Chelsea in Moscow on penalties for Sir Alex’s second CL trophy in 2008 comes close; the agony following Ronaldo’s penalty miss replaced with relief and then joy as Edwin van der Sar saved from Anelka’s spot kick.
The most recent moment of despair, setting aside the ups and downs of this season, was that final goal by Manchester City with almost the last kick of the last game of last season to snatch the Premier League trophy from Ferguson’s grasp. How satisfying that Sir Alex has chosen to bow out having taken the league title back in emphatic style to secure United’s 20th Premier League title and his 13th as United’s manager.
And here is my most valued Manchester United possession; a message from the great man inside a copy of his autobiography, given to me by colleagues as I left my diocesan role in Chelmsford to take up my new post as Team Rector in Great Baddow.
Thank you Sir Alex for so many great memories.
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