The sad day has finally come.
The day every Manchester United fan has been afraid of.
Sir Alex Ferguson has retired, and today is his final home game in front of the Manchester United faithful.
Simply stating that sentence still gives me a sensation of surrealism. He was always the man to state that “no player is bigger than the club”, Manchester United will always live on, but for people like me, I havent known a Manchester United without Sir Alex Ferguson.
Hell, if we go back to the day I was born, Sir Alex was probably still manager at that time.
To people like me, Sir Alex IS Manchester United.
But he stays true to what he always believed in, Sir Alex is now leaving, but Manchester United is here to stay on.
Personally, the qualities that Im going to miss in this man arent his tactical choices, or sly purchases, but his ability to enhance players.
Make them believe they were better than they were.
Pushing them, maximising their potential.
People could easily point at players like Cantona or Ronaldo and state that Fergie was a one man team sort of manager, but they couldnt be further from the truth in my opinion.
Players like Cantona, Keano, Solskjaer, Ronaldo, Scholesy, Becks, Giggsy and more are few and far in between, and with great talent sometimes comes great ego. Its no surprise all the above, no matter how cocky they were on field, always remembered who their boss was. Always remained grounded.
No matter how good they got, he was better.
No matter what they achieved, he’d achieved it before.
He was the one to take them to the next level. But again, this is quite obvious. Any good manager can enhance that calibre of player into a world beater.
But what if I throw in names like:
Gary / Phil Neville
Rafael Da Silva
David De Gea
In other words, distinctly average players. However, these players were part of the first eleven that were fielded by this legendary manager.
Having a Ronaldo carry your team through a few games is fair enough, however, its the:
consistently average / solid performances of Gary Neville
the availability of Phil Neville / O’Shea
the partnership of Yorke and Cole
the consistent runs and crosses by Valencia
the raw passion of Rafael / Cleverley / Welbeck that carry a TEAM.
Ferguson had a way of convincing these players that they were the future of the club, that they were better than what they thought they were.
Two captains emerged out of two brothers who, it could be argued, had nothing in terms of skill.
Two strikers managed to click to become one of the most feared partnerships in the world, who went on to carry the treble.
A young right back, who was known for petulant tackles and needless red cards, has transformed into first choice and a possibly outstanding defender.
A very one footed winger learned that by doing one thing extremely well may well be the only thing required to assist the strikers.
A young centre back tasked with covering the gap left by an injured mammoth of a captain, slotted right in.
A young, thin goalkeeper who made very awkward saves, had the whole country turn against him one season, only to become goalkeeper of the season the following year.
Two players blamed for being “not good enough” by former captain Keano, went on to prove how pivotal it is having a utility player who can plug all sorts of holes in your team.
A striker deemed as that kid who scored a wonder goal against stoke as a 17 year old, went on to show he can replicate that class against top opponents (a Ronaldo-led real madrid).
This, to me, is the true measure of the man.
Mourinho and Guardiola are worthy of being mentioned as potential successors to his legacy down the years because they seem to carry the same values, even though one of them tends to stay with one club longer than the other.
While other clubs rejoice at finally having a chance at winning the league again (Arsenal, Liverpool), people like me are left to take in the sheer amount of surrealism that is currently in the air.
To us, what we are breathing in is suddenly not air.
I have never known Manchester United without Sir Alex Ferguson, but whenever the man does something strange during the transfer window, any Manchester United supporter would recognise the term “in Fergie we trust”.
Well Fergie, we trust you.
Thank you for all the years.
Thank you for making me fall in love season after season with this glorious club.
Thank you for teaching me lessons in success that you will probably never know that you taught me.
Thank you, Sir.