Image: Alex Livesey/Getty Images Europe.
Anyone would think he’d died.
The wailing and gnashing of teeth across the networks, the United fans choking back tears as they described how their lives will never be the same again, the jostling across Twitter as journalists, bloggers, former players scrambled to get their angle on the matter out there.
Image via aftonbladet.
He hasn’t died. But the massive media overreaction to the news of Sir Alex Ferguson’s impending retirement wasn’t entirely unreasonable either. The big man lives on, but for those of us whose football roots were nurtured into growth by the optimistic early 90’s sunshine that shone from that big old Sky, it certainly feels like the end of something. Perhaps even an era. A golden age. Because despite the consistent and desperate attempts of unrepresentative, horse punching minority to prove otherwise, we football fans are human too. And when one drawbridge lifts itself from the fray and closes, the natural human response is to wonder whether anything will ever be the same again.
Like it or not, Sir Alex Ferguson has been a constant in football for the last twenty-odd years. Unless you’re a United fan, you’ve probably had moments in your life when you’ve hated him and his well drilled, irrepressible teams, who never say die and thrive under unimaginable pressure. But like the elderly relative who sits in the corner of the living room, it’s only when the sniping, the bitching and the superiority complex has gone that you realise he was the was the source of the light that made the whole thing so damn vivid.
All bets are off now. With all due respect to David Moyes, Manchester United will walk out into the sunshine of the 2013/14 season an ordinary football team. The shield that has protected them, that has absorbed the glare and harnessed the energy to propel them to new and greater heights will be gone and like everybody else, United’s players will have to learn their own ways to protect and motivate themselves.
One thing’s for sure. English football, with it’s idioms and tics, it’s moments of awe-inspiring asshattery and mesmerising beauty, will never be the same again.