Grizzled, angry, and wine-washed Sir Alex Ferguson has announced plans to retire ‘in three years time,’ which is either Sir Alex generously giving the club he built into a European multi-national corporation beginning some fifteen years ago (not-coincidentally with the launch of the Premier League) adequate time to find a worthy successor; or it’s Sir Alex taking the pressure off by transforming himself into a sitting duck for the next thousand days (although at the time of writing he’s already denied saying anything, the old bugger). He already appears to be something of a figurehead. A recent Guardian expose on Manchester United’s training regimen seemed to insinuate that Carlos Quiroz is now the Prime Minister to Sir Alex’s Queen, the latter making only the briefest appearance to his players on game-days and to inspect the guard during the ‘boxes’ in mid-week.
With the boardroom and training staff running smoothly, a repeat of the scenario when ManU’s last genius manager Sir Matt Busby left the club at the height of it’s success, only for the team to languish and fall into the Second Division while Liverpool took to their ‘fucking perch,’ doesn’t appear likely. Even the Glaziers’ debt and a growing resentment in Manchester and England toward the club, made evident in part with the popularity of renegade FC United of Manchester, won’t shake the Manchester United brand from top spot in the Premier League. An entire generation of football fans, many outside of England and Europe, have latched onto the seemingly perpetual Premiership Champions since the massive resurgence of English Club football, itself brought on by the well-publicized marriage of the league and satellite television in the early 1990s, and most don’t show any signs of changing loyalties with a changing of the managerial guard. The orthodox press in Britain would say the manager is everything, and therefore Manchester United should therefore be very, very worried. Successful clubs come from good management, they say, only then does the money pour in. My suspicion is that Sir Alex has known otherwise for a while now, and will be happy to see the sun set on his legacy in full knowledge that the fortunes of Manchester United FC will be sunny for a long, long time.