10 May 2013

End of an era as Man Utd boss Ferguson to retire

11:33 am on 10 May 2013

Sir Alex Ferguson, Britain's longest-serving and most successful football manager, will retire at the end of the season after more than 26 years spent decorating Manchester United's trophy room with silverware.

The 71-year-old Scot ended intense speculation about his future at Old Trafford by confirming he would step aside after champions United's last game of the season at West Bromwich Albion on May the 20th - which will be his 1,500th in charge.

His decision brings the curtain down on a glittering era for the country's best-supported club which included 13 English top-flight Premier League titles, two European Cups, five FA Cups and four League Cups as well as the FIFA Club World Cup.

Ferguson arrived in Manchester in 1986 after Ron Atkinson was sacked and, after a difficult start, began building an empire that shows no sign of crumbling with the club recapturing the English title from Manchester City this season.

He has seen off seven Liverpool managers since his arrival and 15 at Chelsea and only Arsene Wenger, who has been at Arsenal since 1996, and Moyes, at Everton for 11 years, are in Ferguson's league when it comes to staying power.

His faith in young players launched the careers of David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs while his signings of players such as Eric Cantona, Rio Ferdinand, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney made sure that United, for the most part, remained ahead of their rivals.

Since the advent of the Premier League, United have never once finished outside the top three.