David Moyes favourite as Alex Ferguson announces retirement
Fergie needs hip replacement op and says he's leaving the club he loves in the strongest possible shape
IT'S BEEN many years coming - but the announcement is still a shock. Sir Alex Ferguson, the greatest manager the British game has known, announced this morning that he will finally retire this summer after managing Manchester United for 26 years.
"The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about," Ferguson said. "It is the right time. It was important to me to leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so."
The announcement follows a welter of rumour overnight. The Daily Telegraph said the gossip emerged following the club's players-v-coaches golf day at Dunham Massey on Tuesday afternoon. The paper went on to say that sources within the United squad confirmed that the day "had been overshadowed by suggestions that the Scot would be making an announcement ahead of Sunday's clash with Swansea at Old Trafford".
The Daily Mirror believes Ferguson's decision to retire after 27 years in charge of United was prompted by the news that he requires hip replacement surgery in the summer. With United chief executive David Gill also stepping aside at the end of the season, the Mirror said Ferguson believed the time was right to make way for a younger man.
United last month won their 13th Premier League title under Ferguson, and their final match of this season – against West Bromwich Albion – will be his 1,500th game in charge.
As the Daily Mail reported, Manchester United was bound to act on the rumours because since United were floated on the New York Stock Exchange they are now obliged to adhere to their strict rules and regulations regarding "the release of significant information relating to the running of the club".
While Ferguson is expected to attend the Chester races today for an afternoon excursion with his players, the papers are giving their tips as to who could replace the 71-year-old Scot at the helm of the Premier League champions.
The Sun notes that not only have bookies slashed the odds on Fergie's reign coming to end "to an astonishing 7-4" but Everton manager David Moyes is the 11-10 hot favourite to take over at Old Trafford. The Sun quotes a Paddy Power spokesman saying: "2013 looks increasingly likely to be the last in the glorious career of Sir Alex — and Moyes is the man punters want to back."
The 50-year-old Moyes, like Ferguson a Scot, is one of the men fingered by The Guardian, although the paper doesn't exclude the possibility that Jose Mourinho has been selling the world a dummy and, far from returning to Chelsea – as has been strongly hinted in recent days – the Real Madrid coach is actually preparing to replace Ferguson. Then again, says The Guardian, could Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp be in the frame, or even Malaga's Manuel Pellegrini?
The world will have to wait and see, but one thing does seem increasingly likely: the most successful manager in the history of British football is about to hang up his hairdryer.