Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Soccer Shocker: Sir Alex Ferguson Steps Down as Manager of Manchester United

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Soccer Shocker: Sir Alex Ferguson Steps Down as Manager of Manchester United

Article excerpt

Supporters of one of the world's biggest soccer clubs, Manchester United, are looking at a post-Alex Ferguson future today, after the manager of 26 years announced his retirement.

Mr. Ferguson, whose long tenure and trophy haul will probably never be repeated, will take charge of just two more games this season before he moves on to a boardroom position.

The unexpected decision has sent shockwaves through British and world soccer, or football, and the news even eclipsed the State Opening of Parliament on domestic television.

Glasgow-born Ferguson has won a total of 38 English trophies during his reign at United, including an unprecedented 'treble' in 1999 when his Red Devils won the domestic Premiership league, FA Cup, and European Champions League.

His sometimes charming but gruff character has divided football supporters and commentators, with him carefully creating a "them and us" mentality among his squad. He has never been shy at dealing with troublesome players, crossing swords, and transfer-listing big names such as David Beckham and Dutchman Jaap Stam.

Knighted in 1999, Ferguson - often referred to as Sir Alex - has also seen changes in ownership at Old Trafford, Manchester United's home stadium. This includes the Florida-based Glazer family's controversial takeover in 2005, which saddled the Manchester United club with huge debt.

In a statement today, he said: "The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about and one that I have not taken lightly. It is the right time. It was important to me to leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so."

Ferguson, who is due to have a hip operation in the summer, also won 11 honors at two Scottish clubs and helped Manchester United become one of the biggest supported clubs in world football, with an estimated fan-base of 660 million and a market value of $3. …

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