Manchester United: Alex Ferguson ‘reveals the real reason’ he quit Old Trafford (again)
Sir Alex Ferguson today “reveals the real reason for his retirement as Manchester United manager” to the Daily Telegraph. It’s an “exclusive“. But really it’s just part of Fergie’s marketing for his new book, Leading. And is the news a revelation? Not really, no.
Sir Alex Ferguson would have stayed on as the most successful manager in English football history, but for the death of his wife Cathy’s twin sister, Bridget Robertson, which persuaded him to retire to be by her side.
Says the great manager:
“I definitely would have carried on. I saw she [Lady Cathy Ferguson] was watching television one night, and she looked up at the ceiling. I knew she was isolated. “Her and Bridget were twins, you know?… When I told her this time I was going to retire she had no objection whatsoever. I knew she wanted me to do it.”
And that’s it.
In his last autobiography, Sir Alex told readers why he left Manchester United:
The seeds of my decision to step down had been planted in the winter of 2012. Around Christmas- time the thought became sharp and clear in my head: ‘I’m going to retire.’ ‘Why are you going to do that?’ Cathy said. ‘Last season, losing the title in the last game, I can’t take another one like that,’ I told her. ‘I just hope we can win the League this time and reach the Champions League or FA Cup final. It would be a great ending.’ Cathy, who had lost her sister Bridget in October, and was struggling to come to terms with that bereavement, soon agreed it was the right course. Her take was that if I wanted to do other things with my life I would still be young enough.
Contractually I was obliged to notify the club by 31 March if I was going to stand down that summer. By coincidence David Gill had called me one Sunday in February and asked if he could come to see me at home. A Sunday afternoon? ‘I bet he’s resigning as chief executive,’ I said. ‘Either that or you’re getting sacked,’ Cathy said. David’s news was that he would be standing down as chief executive at the end of the season. ‘Bloody hell, David,’ I said. And I told him that I had reached the same decision. In the days that followed, David rang to tell me to expect a call from the Glazers. When it came I assured Joel Glazer that my decision had nothing to do with David relinquishing day-to-day control. My mind had been made up over Christmas, I told him. I explained the reasons. Cathy’s sister dying in October had changed our lives. Cathy felt isolated. Joel understood. We agreed to meet in New York, where he tried to talk me out of retiring. I told him I appreciated the effort he was making and thanked him for his support. He expressed his gratitude for all my work. With no prospect of a change in my thinking, the discussion turned to who might replace me.
One great difficulty, in the days around the announcement, was telling the staff at Carrington, our training ground. I particularly remember mentioning the changes in my life and Cathy’s sister dying, and hearing a sympathetic, ‘Aaah.’
Not quite the revelation it’s billed as, then.