David Beckham and Sir Alex Ferguson Retirements Signal the End of an Era

Andrew Jordan@@Andrew_JordanSenior Writer IMay 16, 2013

David Beckham was a winner everywhere he went.

After winning league championships with Manchester United, Real Madrid and Los Angeles Galaxy, Beckham won Ligue 1 with Paris Saint-Germain this past season.

Earlier today, Beckham decided to retire as a champion when he announced his retirement from football, effective at the end of the season.

The announcement of Beckham's retirement might be somewhat surprising, considering he just completed a transfer to PSG this past January.

However, when analyzing the former England captain's play, it was clear his career would end in the near future.

During the five months Beckham spent at PSG, he was primarily utilized as a substitute. He averaged a 78.7 percent pass completion percentage, according to WhoScored.com.

This was the fifth lowest percentage of completed passes on the club who played at least nine matches.

Beckham was used primarily as a substitute, starting just two of the 13 fixtures he partook in this year.

At the age of 38, Beckham is ten years removed from his final season with Manchester United.

United, who were the club with which Beckham built his brand over a decade ago, also had retirement news this past week. 

After spending 26 years at Old Trafford, manager Sir Alex Ferguson is retiring following Sunday's fixture at West Bromwich Albion.

The announcement of Ferguson's departure was similar to Beckham's.

Although Ferguson was still succeeding in his managerial duties, he did not have the same power that he appeared to possess in recent years.

This was evident in the multiple transfer saga's involving star forward Wayne Rooney over the past three years.

Fittingly, Beckham and Ferguson will retire within weeks of each other.

Both Beckham and Ferguson represented two distinct footballing brands.

Ferguson represented the blue-collar image of a football manager. Despite the wealth and resources of Manchester United, Ferguson was not focused on acquiring the biggest transfers on an annual basis. He was more interested in developing from within through youth players.

Whenever a player thought they were bigger than Man United, Ferguson would force them out of Old Trafford.

The central message of Ferguson's Manchester United teams was that no individual was bigger than the club.

Beckham was made into that example ten years ago.

Arguably the biggest superstar athlete in the world at the time, Ferguson and Beckham's relationship ruptured in 2003.

Following a loss to Arsenal in the FA Cup, the manager kicked a boot across the dressing room, hitting Beckham above the eye. Ferguson refused to apologize for his actions, claiming whatever happens in the dressing room was "sacrosanct."

Several weeks later, Beckham was infamously dropped for a Champions League quarterfinal match against Real Madrid.

Although the midfielder did score two goals as a substitute, it was clear Beckham would leave Old Trafford in the summer.

The departure of Beckham ten years ago signified the movement of the star's brand to Madrid. But it also showed the end of an era where star players and managers can stay together for long stretches of time.

In the years following Beckham's departure, the two biggest stars developed at United, Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, were involved in transfer sagas.

Ronaldo did leave after being prodded by Ferguson to stay an extra year. However, Rooney does not want to stay and there is a good chance he could leave this summer.

Both Ronaldo and Rooney also highlight the route of vagabond football superstars, who will jump to different teams when afforded the opportunity.

Granted, neither player was a part of Manchester United until their late teens.

This exemplifies that there is a lack of a connection between clubs and star players, a gap which emerged in the aftermath of Beckham's transfer.

Following his move to Madrid, Beckham played for four different clubs. He was unable to find the same safety that Ferguson brought due to the lack of job security for managers.

The departure of Ferguson from football concludes the era of managers who would control clubs for decades.

No boss will have the ability to wield the same power that Ferguson had at their clubs, nor will they attempt to control their superstar players.

For this reason, Ferguson and Beckham's relationship will go down in history as one that highlighted the emergence of the superstar player and the way in which that player is handled.

The departure of Beckham from Manchester United in 2003 signaled that players could leave their clubs if they felt it was necessary to do so.

Meanwhile, there will never be a manager like Ferguson, who will keep his millionaire-earning players in line through a "hairdryer" style of treatment.

Follow me on Twitter @Andrew_Jordan


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