With his announcement of retirement, today marks the end of the career of one of the best football managers of this generation and indeed all time. Sir Alex Ferguson will go down as one of the most successful managers in any sport and although he may not receive much love from fans of other teams he has earnt their respect through his achievements.
It is very difficult to build a championship winning team, harder still to maintain this success and a monumental task to build and rebuild several squads with the ability to do this. In the Premier League era he won 13 out of a possible 21 championships and never finished below third. However, he had mixed success in his first 5 years at the club (before the Premier League was established) and only managed to keep his job thanks to a victory against Everton and the backing of the board and their belief in his long-term vision for Manchester United.
A lot of things need to fall in place in order to build a dynasty like this, tactical knowledge, talent and self-belief, an understanding board that backs the manager but doesn't interfere too much, the authority to say that no player is bigger than the team and an eye for future stars.
Now, I think some parallels can be drawn here between SAF's early years and Marvin Lewis going into 2011 season. Up until that point we had some talented teams in the ML era but the other factors weren't in place to ensure (what will hopefully be) long-term success. However from 2011 onwards I feel that Paul Brown has become less hands on and ML has been allowed to exercise more of an influence, we are short on divas who think that they are better than the team and instead have a wonderfully balanced young and hungry roster and there has been a change in belief of the both the team and the fans - where once we hoped to get to the playoffs we now expect it and more. ML has always been able to pick out talent, the only question left is does he have the tactical nous and game management ability to take advantage of the other factors that have fallen in place. If he can make the next step in this area then the sky is the limit for both him and the Bengals.