With Arsenal suffering, what appears to be, the final blow to their title chances this season Chelsea look to be the only team capable of coming between Manchester United and a record 19th League title.
The Red Devils have also been blessed with the more favourable tie in the Champions League with a semi-final showdown with German club Schalke 04, who they brushed aside with an easy-as-you-like 2-0 first-leg victory. Manchester United now look like firm favourites to face either Real Madrid or Barcelona in the final at Wembley on 28th May.
Yes, all is looking good for United who have been the most dominant English team for the best part of the last two decades.
Success, however, could prove to come at a very high cost as Sir Alex Ferguson has had thoughts of retirement over the past few seasons. And what better way to bow out than claiming a third European cup and the last Premier League crown to finally overtake Liverpool’s long standing record of 18?
Ferguson is the epitome of the great Scottish football manager walking in the footsteps of great managerial pedigree amongst the likes of Sir Matt Busby and Bill Shankly to name a few. These managers have had long lasting careers that have redefined football management and inspired generations of great players.
Ferguson has already cemented his place amongst those greats and, truthfully, he did it years ago. Maybe as far back as 1999 when Manchester United came back from a one goal deficit to score two injury time goals and claim their first European Cup in 31 years at the Camp Nou along with the League and FA Cup double he’d won a few weeks earlier to cap off a historic treble.
In his 25 years at Old Trafford Ferguson has won a remarkable 11 League titles, 2 Champions Leagues, 5 FA Cups, 4 League Cups, 9 Community Shields, 1 Cup winners Cup, 1 Uefa Super Cup, 1 Intercontinental Cup, and 1 Fifa Club World Cup. This is the most impressive CV of any working football manager and maybe even any manager in football history. The fact that Ferguson has done it in the modern game where managers are losing their jobs at the drop of a hat makes it even more of an astonishing achievement.
Sir Alex will be 70 at the end of the year and he knows he is not getting any younger. A final haul of the Champions League and Premier League crown could be the icing on the cake on such a glittering career. Had Manchester United not lost to their rivals Manchester City in the FA Cup semi final a few weeks ago things would have been different. If United had achieved another treble then I think it would have been a certainty that he’d retire come the end of May. Winning the League title makes it likely and winning the Champions League as well would increase the possibility.
The likes of Chelsea and Arsenal could be forgiven for almost thinking about giving up in the title race just to get the Scot out of the picture. With Sir Alex gone a huge hole would be left at United, a hole bigger than any player could ever dream of leaving. Manchester United’s next manager has a monumental task on his hands whoever he is. Even Mourinho doesn’t come close to the sheer presence and respect that Ferguson commanded from his players. Whether Ferguson decides to call it quits at the end of the season is up for debate but it can’t be long now. If United can push on in the coming weeks and secure that double then they can take solace in the fact that they’ve sent this legendary football figure out on the highest of highs.
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Piece courtesy of Nicholas Edwards of This Is Futbol