Time for Sir Alex Ferguson to consider new goals - for the sake of his wellbeing

 

Health Editor

Stepping down from a job is a challenge for mere mortals - the loss of status, structure and income can have a grave psychological impact. For a football god it will be much harder.

Football and Manchester United are in Sir Alex's veins. They are what has got him up in the mornings. He is not only a legendary manager, he sees himself that way. He has power beyond the dreams of most chief executives, a TV channel devoted to his doings and a global following.

To go from a full-on job, with heavy  responsibility and huge expectations, in which everyone wants to talk to him and everyone wants to know what he is planning to "pouring a glass of sherry and watching the dahlias grow" as psychotherapist Phillip Hodson puts it, will require an effort of transformation.

 "I do foresee a period of maladjustment. There are a lot of managers whose names no one can remember.  Sir Alex is larger than life. But fame is a wasting asset - spent twice as fast as ordinary cash," Mr Hodson, a fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, said.

 Sir Alex has long feared retirement, after seeing what it did to his Dad. "My father retired on his 65th birthday and one year later he was dead," he has said. It is what has kept him on the touchline despite having a heart pacemaker fitted in 2004.

Heart problems are not uncommon among football managers but the fact that he managed to maintain his punishing work rate for almost a decade suggests he is not in imminent danger.

The loss of status and of purpose he will face must be the bigger worry. It leaves people bereft.

"He has got to do what we all have to do - re-commit to family and realise that time is not infinite. Having won 49 trophies he has got to think outside the footballing box and consider what other goals he has," Mr Hodson said.

Traditional retirement, in which work ceased abruptly on a man's 65th birthday, is less common today. It has been replaced by "blended" retirement - a gradual withdrawal in which people carry on doing things but less intensely. Sir Alex is to continue as a director of United. Will that work?

Mr Hodson said: "If you are used to being the general it is very difficult to adjust to being the officer."

Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
News
UK Border Control
i100
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

    Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Administrator

    £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Teleradiology s...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn