After 26 seasons at the helm of Manchester United, Alex Ferguson announced his retirement this morning. He leaves as the most successful manager in English football history, and maybe in all of sports.
In a statement posted on United's website, Ferguson 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."
The trophy case is bursting at the seams. United have collected 38 honors since Ferguson came over from Aberdeen in 1986, including 13 Premier League titles, two Champions League titles, five FA Cups, and four League Cups. Individually, he's been named the Premier League Manager of the Season 10 times—though you can probably mark him down for the 11th, after a 2012-2013 campaign that saw United clinch another league title with a month left in the season.
More than the success, Ferguson oversaw the transformation of United from a club that hadn't been relevant since the '60s into today's superbrand, the most recognized sports icon in the world. For his services to British football, Ferguson was knighted in 1999.
Had he retired when he first planned, in 2002, he still would have gone down as one of the sport's all-time legends. As it was, his own personal Fergie Time lasted 11 more years, and 11 more major trophies. He's inextricably linked with the club—trying picturing United without Ferguson, or Ferguson without United. There'll never be another one like him, not in this era of hair-trigger managerial moves, where well-paid superstars overshadow their own teams. But Ferguson was never afraid to discipline his players no matter how much money they made, and was never afraid to break out the mind games to influence officials or throw off opposing managers. He was beloved at home, his success envied everywhere else, the last of the old school.
After undergoing hip surgery in the offseason, the 71-year-old Ferguson will remain with the club in an advisory role. But he still has two more matches to go: Sunday, at home against Swansea, and May 19, at West Brom, his 1500th since joining united. Everton manager (and fellow Scot) David Moyes is the favorite to replace him next season, with The Times reporting it's already a done deal.