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UAE Manchester United fans bid farewell to manager Ferguson

Published: Updated:

Fans across the United Arab Emirates will sorely miss one of the most charismatic and well-known figures in British football, Sir Alex Ferguson, who announced his retirement as manager of Manchester United after almost 27 years at the helm.

Mustafa Ibrahim, chairman of the official Manchester United Supporters Club UAE, said he was shocked and in tears when he heard the news.

“It was like being hit by a freight train,” he added. “He’s of an age where you might expect him to step down, and while it was expected, in my opinion it happened too quickly. One day he was there, the next, gone. He changed the face of British football forever.”

Lifelong fan Ibrahim has only ever known the club managed by Ferguson. “There are certainly big shoes to fill, but we’ll support and back whoever replaces him 100 percent,” he said.

“The replacement manager will have to have a strong character to deal with managing such a big club,” he added, “but we’re sure Manchester United will continue to go from success to success.”

Social media was buzzing with comments on Ferguson’s departure. He “was the greatest manager ever,” said Dubai-based Manchester United fan Seumas Gallacher.

“We would like to say thank you, Sir Alex, for all the great moments we were lucky to witness,” said Omar Othman, head of marketing for the MUSC UAE. “We look forward to next season, and many more seasons of success as the story continues.”

Ferguson saw his team rise and rise throughout his management career, which spanned four decades. He helped the club secure 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, four League Cups, 10 Community Shields, two UEFA Champions League titles, one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, one UEFA Super Cup, one Intercontinental Cup, and one FIFA Club World Cup.

“He’s still involved with the club as director, but it would be fantastic to get him over here for a visit next season,” said Ibrahim, whose greatest memory of Ferguson’s reign was when he attended the 1999 Premier League-winning match, the year the club won the Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League.

Ibrahim is encouraging all supporters to join official club members at the Harvesters, Crowne Plaza Dubai, on Sunday evening for the match against Swansea, where Ferguson's retirement will be marked with a standing ovation and a chorus of “Ferguson’s Red and White Army” in the 26th minute of the match.

Fans can express their views on Ferguson's management tenure online at www.manutd.com, with a chance to win a copy of an exclusive signed fan message book.