It’s the question which has been on everyone’s lips for years. The one which Manchester United fans fear most, rival ones cannot wait for, fellow managers watch closely and media pundits talk about constantly…while Sir Alex Ferguson relishes the continuous speculation. When will British footballs most successful manager finally call it a day? That question may well need to be answered with another – does he know himself?
Somehow it’s doubtful. While the man affectionately known as Fergie at times seems capable of going on forever, an end has to come sooner or later. Former United defender Denis Irwin believes that his old boss will one day announce his retirement without warning, a quick, clean break from a football world that has brought him so much success.
Sir Alex will not give any prior indication of when he’ll choose to retire, according to Irwin. The former Republic of Ireland full back believes his former boss will want to make a clean break from the game when he decides to call it a day and may take people by surprise with the timing of the announcement. When Fergie decides to go it will be quick, it will be clean and all of a sudden that will be that. Nobody will see it coming and he’s highly unlikely to accept a move upstairs.
Irwin, who spent 12 years at Old Trafford amassing more than 500 games, also believes Ferguson is still driven by one or two remaining ambitions and no one should expect a retirement too soon. One that he will be relishing is the challenge coming from Manchester City, a stimulating test that he will want to face for the next year or two.
Overtaking Liverpool on the Championship roll of honour is one that he might succeed in doing this year but failing that, Fergie will hang around until he does. Another Champions League success is also high on the agenda. Sir Alex is of the firm opinion that United should have won more than two European titles under his watch and is determined to increase that tally before he goes.
The highly perceptive Irwin likes to think that he knows precisely how the mind of his former boss works. If it means that Ferguson has to delay his well earned retirement in order to achieve his last remaining goals, the Manchester United legend has absolutely no doubt that it’s what Sir Alex will be more than happy to do.
Who’s your tip to eventually replace Ferguson?