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Alex Ferguson ends 26-year United reign

Updated: 2013-05-09 07:55
(China Daily/Agencies)

Ferguson announces he will retire after 26 years managing Manchester squad

Alex Ferguson ends 26-year United reign

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson celebrates after his team clinched the English Premier League title with a win over Aston Villa at Old Trafford on April 22. Ferguson will retire at the end of the season after more than 26 years in charge, ending the most glittering managerial career in British soccer. [Photo/Agencies]

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson will retire at the end of the season after more than 26 years in charge, bringing to a close the most glittering managerial career in British soccer.

The Premier League champion confirmed on Wednesday that Ferguson, 71, will step aside following United's home game against West Bromwich Albion on May 19.

"The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about and one that I have not taken lightly. It is the right time," Ferguson, who was in charge of 1,498 matches for the club, said on United's website.

Everton manager David Moyes, a fellow Scot, and former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho are the favorites to succeed Ferguson.

Alex Ferguson ends 26-year United reign

United said Ferguson, who took over from Ron Atkinson in 1986 and has won 13 league titles, five FA Cups and two Champions Leagues, will remain at the club as a director.

"It was important to me to leave an organization in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so," said Glasgow-born Ferguson who was going to retire after the 2001-02 season but changed his mind.

"The quality of this league-winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level whilst the structure of the youth set-up will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains bright.

"Our training facilities are amongst the finest in global sport, and our home, Old Trafford, is rightfully regarded as one of the leading venues in the world.

"Going forward, I am delighted to take on the roles of both director and ambassador for the club. With these activities, along with my many other interests, I am looking forward to the future."

When Ferguson began his Old Trafford reign, the club was languishing in the shadow of northwest rival Liverpool, but, after a slow start, he won his first English title in 1992-93 and turned the club into the dominant force in England.

He also launched the careers of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, as well as attracting players of the caliber of Eric Cantona, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney to Old Trafford.

"As for my players and staff, past and present, I would like to thank them all for a staggering level of professional conduct and dedication that has helped to deliver so many memorable triumphs," Ferguson said.

"Without their contribution, the history of this great club would not be as rich."

Ferguson, Britain's longest-serving manager, oversaw the club as it moved into American ownership under the Glazer family in 2005 - an unpopular move among the fans.

"Alex has proven time and time again what a fantastic manager he is, but he's also a wonderful person," Joel Glazer, son of owner Malcolm, said in the club statement.

"His determination to succeed and dedication to the club have been truly remarkable.

"I will always cherish the wonderful memories he has given us, like that magical night in Moscow," he said, referring to the 2008 Champions League final victory over Chelsea on penalties.

Ferguson had dropped no hints he was thinking about retiring, and program notes ahead of last Sunday's game against Chelsea appeared to suggest he would continue his reign as the club's most successful manager for the foreseeable future.

"Whether I will be here to oversee another decade of success remains to be seen but I certainly don't have any plans at the moment to walk away from what I believe will be something special and worth being around to see," he wrote.

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