Sir Alex Ferguson has been one of the few constants over the last 27 years.
Back in 1986, the Soviet Union was a world power, the Berlin Wall stood tall in Germany, apartheid remained in South Africa, Nelson Mandela was in prison and Liverpool were still a footballing powerhouse.
In the time since, we’ve seen five British prime ministers, five American presidents, three popes and 18 different managers of Manchester City.
There was, however, one constant: Sir Alex Ferguson.
One man ruled them all at Manchester United, and this morning, for the first time in 26 seasons, the red half of Manchester was looking for a new manager.
For many fans, there is a feeling that the club is entering the unknown.
For their lifetimes, they have known stability. There was never a desire to see the manager sacked after a run of poor results. To be honest, there was never really a run of poor results.
Whoever succeeds the greatest manager in British football will be under pressure to succeed. Fergie was afforded time when things weren’t going to plan because of the man he was. His replacement might not be so lucky.
The stability, the success and the feeling of trust are gone.
His successor will inherit the Premier League champions, a team with a winning mentality and a solid blend of youth and experience, including some world-class talent.
Whoever takes the job will have the basis for success and will be expected to deliver. Perhaps not in his first season, but certainly thereafter.
Some Manchester United fans know nothing outside of success. They don’t remember relegation, or the barren, trophy-less spell, which Alex Ferguson extinguished and quickly consigned to a distant memory.
We were spoiled, and anything less than success was a disappointment.
Under Alex Ferguson, Manchester United became a well-oiled machine. Success followed success, and on the rare occasion that they finished a season without silverware, there was always the expectation that those wrongs would be righted the following season.
Ferguson’s United saw off the new dawns of Wenger’s Arsenal, Abramovich’s Chelsea and the Sheikh’s Manchester City. United were written off and replaced again and again, but each time, it served only as motivation.
Disappointment fuelled success, and the 2012-13 season epitomised Ferguson and his teams, as he reclaimed the trophy United fans see as their own, winning it back from Manchester City in style.
It was as perfect a finale as you can ever have in football. Now, uncertainty is the order of the day.
There will never be another Sir Alex Ferguson. That much is obvious.
But the perks of the job that Sir Alex was afforded due to his success are gone. Manchester United will start fresh.
It is arguably the most prestigious job in world football, but the position could easily become a poisoned chalice.
Can the new manager deliver trophies? Is he capable of signing the world’s best players? Will he win the derbies? Can he mastermind European success? Can he cope with the pressure?
There are all sorts of questions that cannot be answered until a new manager is in place.
If his reign begins and the answers to these questions are negative, then what? Do you hope that he turns it around, or do you accept he’s not the answer?
Do you stand by a manager for eight years and accept trophy-less campaigns, like Arsenal? Or do you quickly move on, promoting instability and chaos, like Chelsea?
It’s a new era for United; a complete unknown for their younger fans. The uncertainty is making them uncomfortable, and the reasons are obvious.
Managers all over the world would do anything for the opportunity, but every single one of them has pros and cons.
Fergie was perfect.
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