The reaction to Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement: 'Unbelievable'... 'A bombshell'... 'The world's best'

Tributes pour in for Manchester United manager

Former Manchester United players reacted with astonishment at Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement. Peter Schmeichel described the news as a "bombshell" and said he couldn't "make sense of the timing" – a feeling echoed by Michael Owen.

"I'm surprised, but everyone's got to retire at some stage," said Owen. "I thought he was going to go on for another year or two. Anyone in their early 30s and below would have known nothing else other than Sir Alex leading Manchester United out. It's an unbelievable piece of news."

Bryan Robson, a United ambassador, had no inkling: "It definitely came as a surprise, because I go in to watch training every now and again. The boss hadn't mentioned anything, not that he would because he does not give too much away. Still, it is a bit of a surprise."

And Steve Bruce felt the same: "I just spoke to him a couple of days ago. There was no hint of anything about retirement."

There was very little mention of Ferguson on the websites of United's rivals. Of the Premier League's top sides, only Tottenham Hotspur ran a story paying tribute to the Scot. Manager Andre Villas-Boas said Ferguson was "the finest manager in world football". There was no mention on the Everton site that United were lining up their manager, David Moyes, as a replacement, while Liverpool, Arsenal ignored the news altogether.

England's rugby union coach, Stuart Lancaster, said: "What I most admire about him, besides his longevity, is his ability to keep his team at the top of the performance cycle by renewing things at the right time while maintaining the energy, the discipline and culture already within the group. To keep those standards through a season 60-plus games long is tiring enough. To do it for 20-odd years… he must be exhausted."

Their own words: Tributes pour in

"No one will be able to match his achievements... this is a sad day for English football."

Roy Hodgson

"No one's made as great a contribution to the Premier League."

Richard Scudamore, Premier League Chief Executive

"An end of an era today. Sir Alex Ferguson, the greatest of all time. United will have a tough time trying to replace him."

Rory McIlroy

"Can't believe I'm saying this as the man was a thorn in our side for so long but what a manager Sir Alex Ferguson was."

Ricky Hatton

"If it wasn't for my love of Newcastle, I'd have to have signed for Sir Alex." Alan Shearer

"My tribute in full: 'A rude, arrogant, obnoxious, relentless, ferocious, brilliant, whiny, hypocritical, bullying WINNER.'"

Piers Morgan

"Sir Alex, one of the best managers of all time. After 26 years of success in the game, we all owe him a tribute."

Vincent Kompany, Manchester City captain

Rivalries: How managers saw red

Rafael Benitez

Ferguson wanted to knock Liverpool "off their perch" and United chased down their record 18 titles before overhauling it in 2011. Benitez lost his cool with the United manager during the 2009 title race, citing a series of "facts" about United that very nearly got a reaction from Old Trafford.

Kevin Keegan

The 1996 title race riled Keegan to such an extent that the Newcastle manager famously lost his temper about Ferguson live on TV. United eventually won the title despite having been 12 points behind.

Arsène Wenger

In the late 1990s and early 2000s United and Arsenal dominated each title race. Wenger only occasionally lost his cool in public with Ferguson, but on the pitch the clubs battled it out in a series of poisonous clashes.

Jose Mourinho

When Mourinho took over at Chelsea in 2004 and another club could at last compete financially, it was no surprise a rivalry quickly developed. Suddenly it was Chelsea spoiling Ferguson's fun and, in Mourinho, he had a worthy foe.

Video: Praise for Sir Alex Ferguson

Suggested Topics
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins win the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor