“The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about and one that I have not taken lightly,” Ferguson said this morning.

“It is the right time. It was important to me to leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so.”

The club made a statement this morning announcing his retirement and that he would continue as Director and Ambassador at the club. 

Ferguson leaves the club after 26 years in which he led Manchester United to their 20th league title this season, their 13th under his leadership, making him the most successful manager in English football. 

“The quality of this league winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level whilst the structure of the youth set-up will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains a bright one,” he said. 

“Going forward, I am delighted to take on the roles of both Director and Ambassador for the club. With these activities, along with my many other interests, I am looking forward to the future,” Sir Alex said of his future with the club. 

“I must pay tribute to my family, their love and support has been essential. 

“My wife Cathy has been the key figure throughout my career, providing a bedrock of both stability and encouragement. Words are not enough to express what this has meant to me.

 “In my early years, the backing of the board, and Sir Bobby Charlton in particular, gave me the confidence and time to build a football club, rather than just a football team.

“To the fans, thank you. The support you have provided over the years has been truly humbling. It has been an honour and an enormous privilege to have had the opportunity to lead your club and I have treasured my time as manager of Manchester United.”

The rumour mill has gone into overdrive over the last few days with rumours circulating that Sir Alex, who has presided over the Red Devils for 26 years, was set to announce his retirement.