Sir Alex Ferguson retires in a relatively smooth fashion. Nevertheless, his departure means an inevitable period of transition for the global club he helped to build. Front-runners are emerging as a successor
The announcement today [May 8th 2013] should not have been surprising. Sir Alex announced his retirement once before, some years ago, and the shock waves around the news prompted a recantation.
Age shall not weary them
I do not need to check his age. He was born of December 31st 1941, making him a few days younger than myself. Our careers took us on very different paths, although over the last two decades I have found myself regularly writing and talking about his leadership style and achievements.
The most bizarre of those efforts was at an event in Miami where I had been asked to compare his achievements with those of Pat Riley, the iconic coach of the Miami Heat basketball team.
What they do teach at Harvard Business School
Much later, Harvard business School invited Sir Alex to talk about his leadership style. My envy was only slightly lessened by the comforting thought that at Manchester, business students had been studying a case through the textbook Dilemmas of Leadership [Edition 1 only : maybe a revised case is possible for Edition 3, if I don’t retire before it comes out].
The Ferguson touch
The story of his exceptional career and robust style is becoming well-known. [Use the right-hand vertical side bar to find the tags to the various LWD posts written since 2006].
A period of mourning
On hearing the news, someone with inside knowledge of the club told me “It’s a period of mourning. I’ve followed them since I was a child. I love the club. For young people, he’s the only manager they remember.” She listed a range of well-known names as possible future managers, including an insider.
Speculation on succession throws up three early front-runners, David Moyes of Everton, Jose Mourinho of Real Madrid, and Roberto Martinez of Wigan Athletic. One a Scot, one Portuguese, and one Spanish. I would not want to place a bet although I expect there to be a name already close to being announced.
Another list of front runners from The Independent
Later, the three names were linked as follows. Moyes replaced Ferguson; Mourinho went to Chelsea, and Martinez replaced Moyes at Everton.