Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that his decision to announce his retirement at the start of the 2001/02 season had a major impact on Manchester United's concentration through the length of the campaign which ultimately cost them the Premier League title. The Red Devils finished third behind Arsenal, who won the double and Ferguson believes the situation could have been different had he been more judicious in making his decisions.
The Scotsman quite famously dropped his plans to move out of the game and finally hung up his boots after winning the league title for the 13th time after the 2012/13 season. United finished the 2001/02 season with 77 points, 10 behind Arsenal who won the league on a canter with 87. Liverpool finished the league in the second position with 80 points.
However, Ferguson retrieved the situation in the 2002/03 season when he claimed the title yet again, finishing five points ahead of the Gunners with 83.
Ferguson believes that announcing his retirement during that period was a major mistake which he regrets. "It's important to listen to your staff. In 2005, that period we didn't win anything, just before that I had an attempted retirement, and I think that affected everyone," Ferguson told ESPN.
"It was a mistake, and my wife and my three sons changed my attitude towards it and I started to think. The biggest mistake I made was announcing it at the start of the [2001-02] season, and I think a lot of them had put their tools away; they thought, 'Oh, the manager's leaving,' but when I changed my mind in the January, I started thinking about United again and how we could get back on top.
"After that is when [Wayne] Rooney and [Cristiano] Ronaldo came to the club and we had to regenerate everyone. The youth side of it, the scouts; we'd gone to sleep. Strangely enough, the period from there on has been glorious; it's been fantastic with the numbers of league titles we won. The moments you don't win anything register very strongly with Manchester United."