For most Manchester United fans, to even consider the possibility of Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement was beyond the realm of possibility. It almost seemed as if he would be here forever. Many had grown to see only one man screaming his lungs out at his players from the home dugout of Old Trafford. For them, he was synonymous to Manchester United.
And why wouldn't he be? In a league known to be extremely hostile for managers, Ferguson successfully stayed at United for 26 years -- leading them to a record 13 Premier League titles. More importantly, he went on his own terms after leading United to its 20th league title.
When he joined the club in 1986, Manchester United were already among the elites in English football - thanks to a number of English top-flight titles and a European Cup. The club, however, was going through a rough patch with performances on the pitch as well as problems off it. Ferguson's arrival also collided with the time when the broadcasting around the world was undergoing a revolution of sorts, meaning that there were more eyeballs than ever and the intensity of competition was increasing by the day.
Ferguson changed with the times as well. After a struggling start to his tenure, the Scotsman pioneered an overall restructure in the coaching system. Late night parties and unorganised diets were shown the door -- he brought a system to Manchester United.
The academy also underwent changes. The younger players - namely Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and David Beckham, led 'Fergie's' charge as senior players made their way out in his side. Fondly knows as the 'Class of 92', the players would go on to become world-beaters in their prime and lead Manchester United to multiple accolades.
Ferguson led the club to two Champions League triumphs (1999 and 2008). In 2003, he signed a certain Cristiano Ronaldo from Sporting Lisbon. A year later, Wayne Rooney, too, joined him from Everton. The duo would go on to wreak havoc in Premier League and European football over the next five years. While Ronaldo won the Ballon d'Or in 2008 for his exploits with the club, Rooney ended his Manchester United career as the club's highest goalscorer.
His rivalries - especially with Arsene Wenger (Arsenal) and Jose Mourinho (Chelsea & Real Madrid) -- both on and off the pitch, have been intense and well-documented. Mourinho would also go on to follow Ferguson's footsteps at Manchester United.
After Ferguson's retirement in 2013, Manchester United's struggles began significantly, as the club is yet to win a Premier League title since. The club saw four managerial changes since, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer -- who played the entirety of his Manchester United career under Ferguson -- currently in charge.
The cultural impact of Sir Alex Ferguson remains significantly unparalleled. From the US -- which has a different definition for the word 'football' -- to India, where cricket dominates the hearts and revenues among sports, Ferguson left a deep impact with his towering legacy. With 38 trophies in his cabinet, he was won more than any manager in the history of the game. And so, even as today marks seven years since his retirement from football, Ferguson is still considered as one of the greatest managers to have ever graced the sport.