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Fergie retirement great news for Reds

FanZoner Richard Garnett welcomes Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement and doubts whether David Moyes can fill his shoes at Old Trafford.

Last Updated: 10/05/13 at 13:54 Post Comment

Sir Alex Ferguson: Waving goodbye to Manchester United

Sir Alex Ferguson: Waving goodbye to Manchester United

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Throughout life, there are certain dates that stick in people's minds.

Birthdays, deaths, weddings, memorable occasions - for whatever reason, these dates stay prominent in our minds.

For the bog-standard partisan football fan of course, this extends to famous victories like cup triumphs and league titles.

May 25, 2005, for example, is a date that should be etched into the minds of all right-minded Liverpool fans.

So it is with little hesitation that I can say that May 8, 2013, when Liverpool's arch nemesis of the last 26 years finally announced his seemingly never-to-arrive retirement, is a date that Kopites of three generations won't forget in a hurry.

On a day which for United fans probably felt like a death in the family, it was one of relief and calm celebration for their Liverpool counterparts.

We have had to watch the fiery Scotsman overhaul Anfield's proud record of 18 league titles before hanging up his infinite supply of chewing gum with a two-title cushion in United's favour.

When Ferguson won his first title with United in 1993, my father confidently proclaimed that they would never catch Liverpool's seemingly unsurpassable record.

I believed him. He believed himself. Why should anyone think any differently?

The rest, of course, is history.

Liverpool's lack of investment and poor adaption to life in the Premier League era brought an end to their two-decade dominance of top-flight English football.

Only a couple of near-misses under Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez temporarily eased the misery of a conveyor belt of Premier League titles that Ferguson guided back to Old Trafford whilst Liverpool looked on from a far too comfortable distance.

During that time Liverpool have watched in envy as United not only swept all before them but also embarked on an impressive expansion plan of Old Trafford that now sees a capacity in excess 76,000.

Ferguson was also successful in Europe. First winning the now defunct European Cup Winners' Cup in 1991 before finally winning the Champions League in 1999 and repeating the feat in 2008.

It is comfort to Liverpool fans, however, that he was never able to match Bob Paisley's record of three European Cup triumphs.

There is no doubt that Ferguson wanted not only to match Paisley's record, but overtake Liverpool's boastful haul of five European Cups.

Thankfully, that record eluded him.

Ferguson didn't always have it his own way, though, and despite only occasionally challenging United's position at the Premier League summit, Liverpool remained a nuisance to Ferguson on certain occasions.

A 2-0 victory for Liverpool at Anfield denied Ferguson his first Premier League title in 1992, with the trophy going to Leeds United instead.

In 2003 Liverpool triumphed over United at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff to win the League Cup.

United also endured what was, at the time, their worst home defeat in 17 years when Liverpool thrashed them 4-1 at Old Trafford in 2009.

Ferguson would regularly concede that despite Arsenal, Chelsea and latterly Manchester City providing the stiffest competition to United's dominance, it was still the matches against Liverpool that were regarded as the biggest of the season.

He was right, too. A fact that must surely be born out of Ferguson's determination to overtake his rival's trophy record and Liverpool's desperation to prevent that from happening.

That desire to be victorious is admirable but won him few friends on Merseyside, not that he wanted any.

Liverpool fans hated him. He hated us. But under the surface of football tribalism is mutual respect that exists due to shared values and his working class roots.

Ferguson's vocal support of the Hillsborough campaign for justice did not go unnoticed either.

His win at all costs mindset was to be envied. There was a time when Liverpool were famed for their injury time match winners but that was before 'Fergie time' even existed!

Much like Liverpool's roll of honour, however, Ferguson's astonishing record is soon to be the same. History.

Soon he will be able to spend his weekend's doing little more than perusing the Racing Post with a single malt.

So what of the future?

On Ferguson's own recommendation, David Moyes has been announced as his replacement, barely 24 hours later, with an eye-catching six-year contract that suggests the United board are prepared to be patient with their new appointment.

In many ways he ticks the boxes to replace Sir Alex - Scottish, sticks a job out, wouldn't want to cross him.

Probably more alarming for United fans I would think is that he arrives with no major honours to his name. That is in stark contrast to the miracles that Ferguson worked at Aberdeen.

The weight of expectation that comes with managing Manchester United can only be compared to that at Real Madrid. Ferguson would not have lasted as long as he did if he had not been so consistently successful.

Moyes will now be expected to go from having won nothing to winning the Premier League title, regardless of his contract length. That is the tallest of orders for anyone.

There is little doubt that United won games and some of their titles through an embedded fear of losing.

Ferguson cultivated that mindset and executed it to perfection. Can Moyes recreate that? He couldn't even win at Anfield.

The current Toffees manager is not about to step into a hole left by the departing Ferguson, rather he is hovering over a 26-year chasm of success.

Ferguson has said that he wanted to leave United in the best possible shape when he handed over the reins to a new man.

It is no coincidence that by moving upstairs, where his influence will be as greatly felt as it ever was, he has done just that.

With molars sinking deep into the side of my lips, I say congratulations Sir Alex Ferguson on your successful career.

The man we loved to hate will be oddly missed.

The beginning of the end for Manchester United? I can only hope.

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