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Sir Alex and I – A Love Story That Was Destined To End From The Start

When you first met, you had no idea that they were ‘the one’, but here you are, twenty seven years on. Contemplation fills your mind, tracking along every obsession filled vein, to that major organ in your skull. You didn’t see it coming, the finishing line, but it was inevitable. The split is wholly amicable in the end, we have run our course now, and it is time to find a life apart from each other. But it hurts. It hurts so badly. And all you can do is drop them off at the station, to catch that train that will take them away from you…forever.

As relationships go, it felt fairly normal at the start. Those early days of flirtation and folly, were soon replaced by the mundane routine of life in the slow lane. But as the months turned into years, and our futures materialised into the present day, it became ever more apparent that our two destinies were joined at the hip, and that this amazing journey we were about to undertake, we would take together. Hand in hand. Devoted and united.

In 1986, we had no idea what Alex Ferguson would mean to us in 2013. We had no idea about the kind of relationship we would have with the man. We had no idea that we would name a stand after him at our holiest of homes and build a statue of him to overlook that location. We didn’t know that this would not be just another fling: An Atkinson, a Docherty, a Sexton. We had no idea of the incredible longevity, and of all the wonderful memories we would create together. And we had no idea of the depths of love and loyalty we would achieve.

And we had no idea how much pain we would feel when it was over.

I was ten years old when Fergie took over at United – I didn’t take to him immediately. That first year I missed the glamour that Big Ron brought to our club, which was previously welcomed with open arms by a fan base who didn’t really have trophy success to consider, in a Scouse sense of the meaning. Where Atkinson was larger than life and covered in gold and diamonds, Ferguson was British Steel and coal mines. It felt…wrong. It felt like a relationship with little direction. Maybe a rebound affair? Anyway, it would surely all be over before long, and we would get ourselves our very own Terry Venables character. Right? Thankfully not.

Fast forward almost three decades, and it is time to say goodbye. Everything comes to an end, even the very best things in the world. We have all contemplated the idea that this relationship was eternal, and in many ways it is. But physically, it is impossible. Our relationship with the manager can no longer be measured in anything less than repeated golden generations, but now it is time to write a new passage in this rollercoaster story, called Manchester United.

So the clock has been ticking for a couple of weeks now, and the train is pulling into the station. I had no idea how I would say goodbye, but I knew I wanted to stop spontaneously bursting into tears, when I thought about the level of loss I was feeling. I was going to take a deep breath, be the man I wanted to be, and wish the love of my football life a ‘bon voyage’ as I forced a smile, my face all lines of worry and pretence. I could do that, couldn’t I? Even though I died on trophy presentation day at Old Trafford and emotionally collapsed, I felt equally reborn the following day, in the streets of Manchester. Positivity oozed out of me and all of you, from Chester Road to Deansgate, and into the throng of Albert Square.

But yesterday really was the end. So as we kissed goodbye one last time and he boarded that train, my heart felt heavy. I remembered all of those times I didn’t believe in him, but that was mostly Djemba Djemba’s fault. However, the overriding memory was one of love and security. Security is one thing that is rarely present in a football relationship like this. So as the train pulled away from the platform, the ground swallowed me whole, and I was temporarily spat out into an oblivion I had never experienced before. The tears rained down, and it was time to accept that moving on was the only option.

Situations like this call for the pub. So that is where I headed, a football singleton for the first time in forever. But wait! Who is that attractive new red head behind the bar? I recognised them but I wondered what their name was? And as Slade’s ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’ played on the jukebox, I made a move.

A new relationship had begun. We’ll get wild wild wild…all over again.


Follow Rob on Twitter.



  1. zeroctrl says:

    Moyes can win us over right away and start a new love story by making our midfield something to be afraid of in Europe. SAF was stubborn about it.. all utd fans saw our gaping weakness..If moyes doesn’t see it and address it straight away then we’re in trouble

  2. croweyp says:

    Are you drunk? Bit poetic for a football blog.

  3. The Left Bank says:

    Nice reflections on SAF, Rob.

  4. Rukky says:

    Unbelievable human beign

  5. NBI Red Onion says:

    Hmmm manager like relationship with opposite sex, hmm, I love SAF but not sure I am feeling this analogy, but you carry on Rob…

  6. Tom says:

    Beautiful, so long farewell to the goat but it’s not the end it’s just the beginning of new hopefully successful chapter

  7. Dan-young says:

    under 21′s just brought it back to 2-2 from 2-0 down. really impressive football in this second half

  8. Dan-young says:

    larnell cole with a late goal to make it 3-2 .. those young’uns seem to have the fergie mentality :)

  9. Satinoz says:

    2-0 to 3-2 comeback kings..limp restive by d under-21 team

  10. Satinoz says:

    2-0 to 3-2 ,comeback kings..impressive display by d under-21

  11. AlphaRS says:

    Larnell Cole puts United 3-2 up…!
    The Under 21′s doing it for United. The United fans at this game are making more noise than most home games at Old Trafford in the Premier League…!

  12. RVP's Left Foot says:

    congratulations to the u21 lads….winning it in typical united style ……. cole with 2 cool finishes…..the boy januzaj is really good….kind of our mesut ozil….if he can bulk up he will be something special

  13. The One says:

    Woo-hoo, we’ve won the U21 title as well with a great come back after being 2-0 down in the first half…..CONGRATS to all the young lads!! :)

  14. AlphaRS says:

    Zeki Fryers was the Tottenham Cow better than the United Cow..?! Ha.

  15. Dan-young says:

    tell you what, the quick pass and moves between cole, lingaard and januzaj is VERY impressive. one player that keeps under the radar the bit, in terms of being set to get first team opportunities is ekangamane .. hes kind of like a quicker fitter Anderson. if he bulks up even more and maye works a bit on passing accuracy he could be a fantastic midfielder for us. can score a screamer too!

  16. Raizzen says:

    A bit gay but sums up the whole feelings for us United fans.

  17. sammsky1 says:

    These past two weeks have been strange and uncomfortable. It has felt as if a close family member passed away. Theoretically, I always knew Sir Alex Ferguson could not go on forever, that eventually his role as manager of Manchester United had to end and I would have to deal with it. The problem with that theory is that it is like trying to imagine life without your much-loved uncle. It’s a horrible, terrible thought, one that brings much anguish and pain. And so I shut it out of my mind.

    The reality of life hit me with brutal force two weeks ago when the great man announced that his work at Manchester United was done. After providing me with 27 years of access into his amazing mind, the door would finally close. After his 1500th match in charge, he finally closed that door forever. I wont be seeing much of him any more.

    Growing up in London in the 1980s, I started off supporting my local team, Arsenal, but my late father quickly put an end to that. No son of his would be loyal to that north London club, and I was forcefully persuaded to support his team: Manchester United.

    In those days, Manchester United was not very good and I was the only boy in my school that supported them. The glory hunters all supported Liverpool, who ruled the world. Other boys at my school did not know what to make of Manchester United. They weren’t very good; they were not a local team, nobody else liked them: it was like an individual who was not from Nottingham deciding to support Nottingham Forest. And yet I was correct in my final choice of club: the rule every boy knows is that you support your local team, or the team your father supported.

    A few years into my support of the club, my father excitedly announced that everything was about to change at our club, that a new, amazing man was our new manager. Abba said that Alex Ferguson would be everything Sir Matt Busby was, and more. My father lived near Manchester when he first immigrated to the UK and had watched Best, Law and Charlton in the flesh at Old Trafford. And to be honest, my life was forever changed following Sir Alex Ferguson’s arrival at Manchester United.

    He’s always been there in my life. Most days for a few minutes, every weekend for a couple of hours. It’s a relationship that has provided one of life’s critical anchors. In my life of endless drifting, Sir Alex Ferguson was always a focal point from which I could draw stability, comfort and meaning. So many memories of mine from the last 20 years are so deeply embedded in his story and achievements. I learnt many years ago that to enjoy my passion for Manchester United to the fullest extent, I would have to pledge unconditional love to this man. I did so, and he has never let me down.

    It’s because of Sir Alex that I met so many people with a common passion. It’s because of him that I visited so many places: I declined an offer from the prestigious London School of Economics and accepted the other offer I had from the University of Manchester so I could be near my club during my university years. My mother stopped speaking to me for 2 months! But it was worth it as Sir Alex won his first English league title during my degree years and I was in the city to cheer him and Eric Cantona in the city centre.

    I also managed to find a way to Barcelona in 1999 to witness the 2 goals in the last minute that won a historic European Champions League trophy. And by virtue of living and working in Asia for the past 10 years, I have routinely awoken at 3:30am in hotel bedrooms scattered across the region to catch European matches. But it was always worth it. Sir Alex would be there.

    His unmistakable accent, a voice full of verve, conviction and integrity – his words have always been profound and undisputable. His thinking was innovative, energetic and ahead of the times which is remarkable because normally people get stuck in their ways. I have learnt so much from Sir Alex, the most fundamental being the importance of identifying what you are passionate about in life and then pursuing that with tunnel vision.

    Managing Manchester United was never a job or a way of making money for Sir Alex. It was his passion: a 26 hours a day, eight days a week. In one sense, he never worked a day in his life and would have performed the work for free, a trait common in all great people.

    Sir Alex Ferguson found the thing he was born to do – to manage Manchester United. The opportunity came when he was aged 46 and it kept him enthralled for 27 years. That’s the legacy and challenge he leaves all of us: to find satisfaction and genuine fulfillment, we must challenge ourselves to find the one thing that drives our life’s purpose.

    If we find that one beautiful thing in our lives we must invest all our emotion and energy into being brilliant at it. If we can, not only will our own life experiences be enhanced, but surely, we will also bring happiness and satisfaction to many others. Just as Sir Alex Ferguson has provided me for so many years.

  18. kel says:



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