Ferguson’s reply to City should be one season long

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Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has claimed Sir Alex Ferguson will call time on his career after next season.


If this is the case, it is the correct decision for the Manchester United manager.


It was heartbreak for him and his side on the last day of the season, as the Old Trafford side lost their Premier League title on goal difference.


However, this may be the closest they get to Manchester City again, with the Abu Dhabi billions almost certain to back further enhancements of an already enviable stable of superstars.


Ferguson has seen off challenges to his supremacy in the past, but none with quite so much daunting power as that which has come from across the roost he once ruled so emphatically.


While United are certainly not going to all as far as Forest, you do not want Ferguson’s staying on too long as the legendary Brain Clough did.


There are a number of factors going against the Scot and any thought of going on for a significantly longer period.


The first is the state of Manchester United under the Glazers and the restrictions that may be in place under them.


Contrary to Twitter reports, Malcolm Glazer did not die of a stroke earlier this week and, after wondering why some buffoon would decide to start such a rumour, he is alive and well, making profits out of the club.


The United balance sheet has reduced significantly over the past year and this could have an effect on their ability to but in the best talent, especially as the market is being distorted to a degree by the fad for billionaires to own football clubs.


Anzhi Makhachkala in Russia, PSG in France, Malaga in Spain and the growing influence of big spending Chinese clubs is causing wages for elite players to rise – not to mention the money being paid at City and the renewed spending vigour of Roman Abramovich.


It will be become more and more difficult for United to keep up with these other sides under the current restrictions they face with the Glazer ownership.


The other factor is the management of City by Sheikh Mansour, who does not seem to succumb to the pressure mounted by the press and seems unlikely to act on a whim when it comes to football matters.


You doubt Roberto Mancini would still be in the job if a character such as Abramovich was in charge at City and it looks as though they have an understanding of how it takes time to build a successful side.


This has given Mancini confidence to act shrewdly and avoid risky measures when it comes to team selection or tactics – the Italian has hardly diverted from the set game plan he established at the start of this season.


They instilled more flair this year and were less defensive in their approach, something that paid off in the end when they finished top by virtue of their better goal difference.


The Carlos Tevez saga is something that could easily have derailed most clubs, but the atmosphere being curated at City allowed them to soak up the controversy and brush it off.


Vincent Kompany has improved every year he has been with the Citizens and the patience being shown form the top has allowed him to develop into a towering presence in the team.


A leader and captain who would be welcome in most any other side in the world and the type of character you can see leading a team to more than one title.


The final factor is age. Ferguson is 70 years old now and has been at the club for 26 years.


The former Aberdeen boss has shown remarkable talent for reinventing his sides and keeping the club competitive as the Premier League and European football landscapes changed over the years.


A man can only go on for so long, however, and City’s emergence could just be one challenge too many for a man that is undoubtedly coming close to the end of his career.


Ferguson’s record means he must be respected in deciding to want to take the challenge to topple the ‘noisy neighbours’, as he once so cruelly called them.


Were he to manage it, reclaiming the title from City could well be his greatest achievement.


Ferguson should have one more crack of the whip, but that should be all – it would be wrong to have a club in decline as the last memory of an unparalleled career.

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