Now this may seem like a strange thing to say. Misguided and plain wrong some may argue. But with the Premier League being dominated by the "big four" over the last few seasons, and now the "big five" with the rise of Tottenham Hotspur, the loss of Ferguson could very well dislodge Manchester United from their relatively superior position in this five club race. Looking at La Liga, with Barcelona and Real Madrid battling it out for Spanish silverware in the most predictable of manners year after year, and now Bayern looking like they will be smashing apart the Bundesliga for the foreseeable future, competition is something we should cherish in the Premier League. United walked the title this year, with a team that is talented and functional, but no better in terms of strength of depth than say Manchester City or Chelsea. The manager was the difference.
Ferguson has been managing at United since 1986. He was given the chance to build a club, and once he had built the club, he built team after Championship winning team. His spirit is engrained in the stadium, the turf, the players and the fans. It is this fact that gave him his formula for success. He had the reputation to inspire youngsters to be better than they were, and to get performances out of the old guard that would make The Expendables shudder with fear. He also had the reputation to wash his hands of rebels, or disruptive influences within the club. He has managed to build a monopoly on continued success, because he has been thought bigger, bolder and with more determination than the competition, and his club has backed him all the way.
Now let's have a look at Arsenal, Chelsea, City. Can you see the same respect ever being shown to Mancini? He hasn't earned it, and it shows in the way his players go about their business. It shows in the way he goes about his business. Chelsea, another club with all the money they can chuck at the next big thing, can't hold onto their manager for more than five days before they've paid him off and brought in the next one. The chairman builds the team, and treats his managers like dirt (very well paid dirt mind you). Then there's Arsene, a manager comparable to Ferguson on a number of levels. He has been at Arsenal for years, and built a couple of fantastic teams, winning trophies and competing with Ferguson at times almost as an equal. Then there was the drought. The drought that has proven with every season that Arsenal hang up their boots trophy-less, that he is not Fergusons equal, nowhere near, no matter how long he serves the club that he loves.
It is going to be fascinating to see who replaces Ferguson, but this is not a story that will go away quickly. The unknown trajectory of the future of Manchester United will keep us entertained for years. What the shake-up in the management should do, is restore some kind of level playing field over the long term, giving each of the "big five" clubs the incentive and drive to fight tooth and nail for the league title. Ferguson will be missed of course; others will make that point better than I can. But his exit from the management of Manchester United could be the spark that ignites the Premier League as it moves into its uncertain future.