Moyes and Mourinho the favourites to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson - Credit: PA

DAVID Moyes and Jose Mourinho are the leading candidates to become the next Manchester United manager after Sir Alex Ferguson this morning revealed he is retiring following his 26-year one-man dynasty at the club.

United confirmed the news on their website this morning after news broke overnight following apparent leaks from the club’s annual coach and players golf day.

“The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about and one that I have not taken lightly,” said Ferguson, who suggested in his programme notes last weekend that he was not ready to walk away. “It is the right time.”

The 71-year-old’s last game in charge will be at West Brom on May 19 and he will join the club’s football board.

“It was important to me to leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so,” he said.

“The quality of this league winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level whilst the structure of the youth set-up will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains a bright one.”

Ferguson has had a career the like of which will almost certainly never be seen again.

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He won his 49th trophy, and United’s 20th league championship, and seemed set to extend his career into next season. Instead, with a hip operation booked in for August, this weekend’s Old Trafford encounter with Swansea, which will be followed by a trophy presentation, will be his last home game in charge.

It seems incredible to think it now, but in 1989 it seemed he was going to be sacked. Then, in 2002, he was about to retire and instead performed a last-minute U-turn. This time it is permanent.

“In my early years, the backing of the board, and Sir Bobby Charlton in particular, gave me the confidence and time to build a football club, rather than just a football team,” said Ferguson, who had won the European Cup Winners’ Cup with Aberdeen.

“Over the past decade, the Glazer family have provided me with the platform to manage Manchester United to the best of my ability and I have been extremely fortunate to have worked with a talented and trustworthy chief executive in David Gill.

“I am truly grateful to all of them.

“To the fans, thank you. The support you have provided over the years has been truly humbling.

“It has been an honour and an enormous privilege to have had the opportunity to lead your club and I have treasured my time as manager of Manchester United.”

Now, for the first time in over a quarter of a century, United are on the hunt for a new manager.

David Moyes, out of contract at Everton, and Jose Mourinho, who has made fairly blunt hints that he will be leaving Real Madrid at the end of the season, are the obvious favourites, although Borussia Dortmund’s highly-regarded coach Jurgen Klopp and Bayern Munich’s 67-year-old outgoing boss Jupp Heynckes will also come into contention.

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