Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted that he was prepared to stay on as Manchester United manager beyond 2013 if it were not for the death of his wife Cathy's twin sister.
The legendary figure, immortalised by a statue outside the stadium he brought so much success to, stepped down after guiding Manchester United to their 13th Premier League title.
His decision would ultimately see the club fall out of the top four for the first time since the league's inception and, arguably, signal the beginning of the end for many Red Devils stars.
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Louis van Gaal, with the help of hundreds of millions of pounds, is still trying to repair the damage that was quietly, yet instantly, caused by the exit of one of the sport's most successful figures.
Now Ferguson has revealed that factors in his personal life led to his eventual decision and had it been purely footballing matters at play; the Scot could still be in charge of England's most successful club.
“I definitely would have carried on,” he told the Telegraph.
“I saw she [Lady Cathy Ferguson] was watching television one night, and she looked up at the ceiling. I knew she was isolated,” Ferguson says. “Her and Bridget were twins, you know?”
Ferguson originally planned to retire in 2002, but, with the help of his wife, reversed his decision and spent a further decade at Old Trafford. However, when he asked for her opinion on retiring in 2013, the response was very different.
He said: "When I told her this time I was going to retire she had no objection whatsoever. I knew she wanted me to do it.”
The problems started from the very first summer without Ferguson. David Moyes–a personal choice of Sir Alex–and the newly appointed executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward struggled to recruit the required players. They eventually bought Marouane Fellaini on transfer deadline day after failing to attract Thiago Alcantara and Cesc Fabregas.
But Ferguson admits he worked on transfers until his last day in charge, saying: “Even when I knew I was retiring we still tried to put some things in place, with players coming in. Like everything I say about Manchester United, the bus was still moving forward. No one was getting left behind. Everyone was optimistic about where we were going."
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