Former Manchester United midfielder Luke Chadwick has revealed what it was like when the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson made his U-turn on retirement back in 2002.
The Scottish tactician was due to step down at Old Trafford, but ended up changing his mind and stayed on until finally calling it a day in 2013 instead.
Chadwick admits the mood at Man Utd hadn’t been great when the players thought Ferguson would be leaving, but it immediately lifted once he revealed he’d changed his mind.
Having been a part of the United squad at that time, Chadwick spoke exclusively to CaughtOffside about what he remembered from the saga.
“I remember there was a huge amount of disappointment within the squad that the manager was going to retire,” Chadwick said. “I don’t think there was a concrete name (to replace Ferguson) at the time, there were a few managers being linked.
“I don’t remember the exact details but I remember an incident where the club had had a couple of poor results and Sir Alex told everyone that he wouldn’t be retiring and that he’d be staying. It was a huge relief and it gave all the players in that team a huge amount of confidence.
“For a lot of them he was the only manager they’d ever played under, so it was a massive strain taken off the club when he said he was staying on, and obviously he went to win a lot more after that decision.”
United will be relieved they kept Ferguson for so much longer, with life since then proving so difficult for the Red Devils, who have once again made a change by replacing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with Ralf Rangnick.
Chadwick admits he can’t help but feel that a lot went against Solskjaer in his time at United, though it’s also clear that a change needed to be made after the team’s alarming recent slump.
“There was the disappointment of losing the Europa League final, I do think that would’ve made a massive difference going into this season with a bit of silverware,” Chadwick said.
“They strengthened well over the summer with Varane, Sancho and Ronaldo coming in, there was a really big feel-good atmosphere at Old Trafford again. Varane’s injuries haven’t helped, I think it would’ve made a big difference if he’d started more games this season, and if Sancho hadn’t started quite slowly. Ronaldo’s obviously done his job, but it’s maybe led to the team changing the style a bit.
“Since the Leicester game when Harry Maguire played when maybe he shouldn’t have because he didn’t seem fit at all … And then from the humiliation against Liverpool it seemed an impossible job to turn around it from there.
“A few things went against him, Varane’s injury, Sancho not hitting the ground running, but at the end of the day the team slipped down the league with some poor results, and his position became untenable.”