In a special commemorative pull-out edition, WWLTW tells the untold story of Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement from the Old Trafford hotseat and the search for his successorBy George Ankers
Doomsday finally comes
On a quiet Tuesday afternoon, the alarm on David Gill's watch went off. That's odd, he thought, I'm sure I'd set that for much later. The Manchester United chief executive pushed back his sleeve to check his timepiece and tapped the 'alarm off' button lazily.
He was just withdrawing his hand when he realised that the alarm was still beeping insistently.
No, Gill thought. He checked again. Pressed the button again. Still it chirped. No, no, no. His mind raced. He gulped. Took a deep breath. Gripped his sleeve and heaved. The tearaway fabric fell away in his hand to reveal a second watch wrapped around his upper arm. The beeping grew louder.
|THE HAIRDRYER REMEMBERED
Misty-eyed journos recall first-hand Sir Alex's temper
|"Good old Fergie; I learned the hard way not to mess with him. I once told him that his team had been defensively naive against Derby; he told me that I was a 'capitalist pigdog'. Good times" - Alf Scrute, The Daily Messenger
|"Sir Alex put me in a headlock and screamed obscenities when I asked about Liam Miller's future. In retrospect, it was roguishly lovable" - Brian Murgatroyd, Sunday Northern Newsroast
|"I asked him what his new signing, Kleberson, would bring to the team and he punched me right in the kidneys. Fair play; I was in the wrong" - Charlie Sixscrabbles, The Goat
|"I was idly trimming the hedges in my garden when Fergie burst in and set upon me with a rusty axe. I still have the scars. What a wonderful man, though" - Lloyd 'Joystick' Ferrars, Manchester Knitting Weekly
Gill's face drained and he sprinted out of his office, stumbling and wheezing, sure that he had more air in his lungs than this. Careering, he crashed to his knees and fell his way through the door to Ed Woodward's office. The United vice-chairman raised his eyebrows at his panting boss.
"Ed," Gill gasped, "it's happened. Initiate Protocol Omega."
Woodward stared at him blankly. Processed. Slowly, understood. He initiated Protocol Omega. "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" he shrieked. He did not know what to do with his arms so started ripping disjointedly at his suit; it came away in sad, grey shreds. "WHY? WHY, MERCIFUL ZEUS?" His words melted into an animalistic growl, a wordless song of loss and confusion.
Two hours and the ceremonial seven extra minutes later, the pair had wailed themselves hoarse. Gill coughed up the last mouthful of tears and reached for the phone, dialling in a memorised number.
"Special Agent MacAnthony," he croaked when his call was answered, "is ... is Subject One ready?" When the Peterborough chairman gently informed him that, no, Darren Ferguson had in fact been relegated, Gill found hitherto unrevealed reserves of moisture deep inside and began crying all over again.
He turned his head to Woodward, who was slumped against a bookshelf, clutching his knees to his chest. "Assemble the conclave."
"Jose, what do you think of Manchester United's choice of manager?"
In their special red robes, they gathered before the trophy cabinet in the heart of Old Trafford. Gill. Woodward. Charlton. All the Glazer brothers awkwardly morphed into one person for ease of writing. And, for some reason, Eric Djemba-Djemba.
"I just don't understand why we have to get rid of the guy," complained Amalgam Glazer, his stubble constantly waxing and waning.
"For the third time, Amalgam, he's leaving," spat Gill. "He is. Him. He chose to. We can't do anything about it!"
|REVEALED: MOYES'S TO-DO LIST
|1. Mud-wrestle Wayne Rooney to establish alpha-male status|
|2. Take advantage of Robin van Persie's value peaking to flog for transfer funds|
|3. Win over fans with long-awaited central-midfield signing; restore Darron Gibson to his rightful glory|
|4. Place bulk order for 50,000 packets of mint chewing gum|
|5. Memorise names of local journalists in order to demean them by deliberately addressing them with wrong names|
|6. Read the instruction manual for operating Howard Webb|
Sir Alex Ferguson stood and observed the conclave with disdain. There was a moment's poignant silence before Woodward scurried over, physically diminishing in height the closer that he got. "Please," he whimpered as he tugged on the Scot's hand like a child, "don't, please..."
"What are youse all doing?" fumed Sir Alex. He shrugged Woodward off him like a fly. "Get off me," he grumbled, "and take off that f****** sign, Eric. What are you doing here, anyway?" Djemba-Djemba sheepishly lifted his 'THE END IS NIGH' cardboard plaque over his head and slunk out of the room.
"We're, er, debating your successor, boss," replied Sir Bobby Charlton. He pointed to the nearby bulletin board, on which were pinned photos of Jose Mourinho, Herbert Chapman and Sir Alex himself, along with a large red question mark.
"Don't be daft," the 71-year-old snorted. "David Moyes'll do. He's got scary eyes like an alien; I like that." The eyebrows of the conclave had been glared back down almost before they had time to rise in the first place.
"Now then," Sir Alex continued, tugging on the leash in his hand and leading in Mike Phelan, his tongue lolling out of the side of his mouth and a contented expression. "This is Mike. I'm leaving him here. He needs walking twice a day and he likes a treat in the evening. If you overfeed him, I'll be back for your heads."
And then he was gone. The conclave gaped wide-eyed at the door, closed behind him. Many moments went by. Phelan barked into the silence and licked Gill's ear. The chief executive shrugged. "Has anyone got Everton's number?"
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Some teams actually played football.
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