It came as a shock to most people when rumours started circulating on the evening of May 7th that Sir Alex Ferguson planned to retire at the end of the 2012/2013 season, having wrapped up the title weeks before the end of the season.
That night, Ferguson rang up his brother and closest confidante, Martin, to let him know of his decision.
“Alex phoned me and told me, and that was the first I heard of it,” Martin recalled. “It came right out of the blue. It wasn’t anything he’d discussed with family or friends. He just said he was retiring and would be making an announcement about it in the morning. I was with him on Sunday and he never breathed a word. He was just the same as ever and in good spirits and focused the same as always. I think he kept it tight to his chest out of loyalty to Manchester United and wishing to do it in the right way. He will be annoyed that somebody let it out. I would imagine he will be very annoyed.”
Yesterday, Jose Mourinho yet again denied that he had been desperate for the United job, despite it being reported for years that it was the post he wanted to return to England for and that he was devastated that United hadn’t even considered him for it. That is understandable. He’s hardly going to admit now, as manager of Chelsea, that they were his second choice.
He then went on to claim that Ferguson had told him of his plans to retire two weeks before the news has been made public.
“I knew a couple of weeks before the announcement because my friend was nice to me and trusted me completely,” he said. “He told me something really important before the press. He said I was one of his best friends in football so he wanted me to know before I read about it. I was afraid because I was sure someone might leak and the boss might think it had come from me. But it would never have.”
In June, Mourinho claimed it wasn’t a few weeks before, but actually many months before, that Ferguson had told him.
“I knew that Ferguson was retiring many months ago and I was so happy to have his trust,” he said. “It was big news for the world. I can imagine that just a very close circle around him knew that and it was a big responsibility for me to know that. Why do I know that? Because we are friends.”
So Ferguson told his own brother the day before but confided in Mourinho “many months” earlier? Right, ok. It makes you wonder whether this fantasist even knows himself when he is telling the truth and when he is lying.