A final email from Oshodi Oluwalolopemi. "Please we need more info on Ferguson and who is likely to be the next United boss. Looking forward to your reply thanks." Sorry! Can't help! I'm off to cover the Chelsea-Spurs game - aye, some actual football!!! - so you'll have to make do with keeping an eye on our Football front for all the breaking news, and whiling away the time until they roll the red carpet out for Moyes/Mourinho/Rodgers by reading the thoughts of our chief football correspondent ... ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for Mr Daniel Taylor. In the meantime, let's all wave goodbye nicely... ta-ra, Fergie! Ta-ra!

The Everton fans being interviewed outside Goodison seem pretty relaxed at the prospect of losing their manager to United. Lots of talk about how he'll do a decent job, if an unspectacular one compared to Ferguson, and one guy saying that he "can't begrudge" Moyes the chance of betterment. How the landscape of football has changed during the Fergie era, that this move is seen as an unquestionable step up, and by Everton's own supporters too. In Ferguson's first season at Old Trafford, Everton won their ninth league title. United, by contrast, only had seven in the pot. And now look.

Moyes is certainly the hot favourite to take over at Old Trafford, but stranger things have happened, and all that. So in lieu of any official announcement, and if you fancy losing your house and developing a tanking al fresco alcohol problem, how about taking a punt on some of these?

1-10: David Moyes
5-1: Jose Mourinho
.
.
.
50-1: Martin O'Neill, Gary Neville, Michael Laudrup
80-1: Arsene Wenger, Harry Redknapp, Rafa Benitez
100-1: Paolo di Canio, Sam Allardyce, Roberto Mancini
250-1: Kevin Keegan, Darren Ferguson

No odds quoted for Brendan Rodgers, you'll notice. I'll get back to you on that.

Updated

Moyes is likely to be at Stamford Bridge this evening, by the way, for the big game between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur. And Andre Villas Boas thought tonight would all be about him. Po' Andre! I'll be covering that, and trying, but probably failing dismally, to avoid mentioning Moyes and Fergie once. Here's the link, should you be desirous of following that one.

Paw Broon, whose stint in charge at Pittodrie wasn't quite as stellar as Sir Alex's, though in fairness he probably made a better fist of the Scotland gig, is being interviewed on Sky re the possible ascension of David Moyes. The man Brown took over from at Preston North End is a "ready-made replacement" for Ferguson, a "tough, resilient Glasgow boy", and a man who offers a "seamless transfer". For the record, his front room is as beige as his opinions: nut-brown sofa, sand-coloured easy chair, cream shade on the lamp, and nicotine wallpaper. It's like sticking your face into a vat of latte.

Good evening. Now then, there's bound to be much debate over the next few hours, weeks, months and years - all of which will feel like years - as people clamber over themselves to assess Fergie's legacy. Was he better than Sir Matt Busby? Bob Paisley? Brian Clough? Ally MacLeod? So many discussions yet to be enduredjoyed. But here's one incontrovertible fact:

Alex Ferguson > Margaret Thatcher

Here's the raw data: within an hour of Manchester United announcing the wee matter of his doing one on Twitter, there had been 1.4 million mentions of it on everyone's favourite social networking farce. By comparison, Baroness Thatcher took four hours to top a mere one million mentions. #goodoldfashionedsocialism

OK, that's it from me - Scott Murray has just hoved into view and will be posting updates for the next hour or so. Enjoy.

This comment has been chosen by Guardian staff because it contributes to the debate

It's a small thing, but when my son was born, my gran wrote a letter to Alex Ferguson and asked him for a signature / signed letter for my newborn. I told her she must be mad. Then a nice, personally signed 'congratulations' came through. It's still on my son's wall to this day, and he's an avid fan.

A small thing, but it was special to me.

The man is an absolute legend.

And a trip down memory lane from the FA ...

Big news from Owen Gibson ....

Here's Ewan Murray with the view from up the road ...

In the clamour to hurl bouquets at the feet of Sir Alex Ferguson on the occasion of his retirement, the main focus has been on his 27 years in charge of Manchester United. Of course, he'd never have got the gig at Old Trafford if it hadn't received his grounding in the art of management in Scotland, at East Stirlingshire, St Mirren and Aberdeen. Here's Ewan Murray to reflect on the man's prodigious management career in Scotland

This zinger prompted much amusement in Guardian Towers ...

George Monbiot cracks a joke about football

It would be a gross dereliction of journalistic duty not to include it here. Most of us here at Guardian Towers had no idea our resident eco-warrior even knows what football is. Perhaps he's been hacked.

An email from reader Dave Seare: "The Sky era has been the best time to manage the richest, biggest team in England," he writes. "Financial muscle has never been more favoured in our game. Whoever follows has to deal with a creaky team and the consequences of the Glazer ownership model. And I can't help thinking they should have won a couple more European Cups. His superb achievements are worthy of the highest praise, though. Even though they are part of football dying as a sport."

Meeting Fergie: Never having been fortunate or unfortunate (depending on his mood and your point of view) enough to attend one of his press conferences, I only ever met Fergie at the races, specifically at the Cheltenham Festival a few years ago.

He was standing alone in the winners' enclosure, typing a text message after his horse What A Friend had been beaten in some race or other, so I ambled over, introduced myself and asked him if he was pleased with the horse's performance. He saw the tape machine in my hand, gave me a bit of a dirty look but said that he was.

We chatted a bit more about his plans for the horse and then I excused myself, telling him I'd let him get on with his afternoon's fun. As a reward for my impudence, I was sent on my way with a pat on the shoulder, a "well done, son". I felt 10 feet tall! I felt like Geoff Shreeves! 

Updated

Hello, hello ... what's all this shouting about? Barry Glendenning here. I spent all weekend in Sheffield at the snooker, then was covering the Giro d'Italia for most of today, so am probably the most poorly informed person imaginable to keep you abreast of what's going on.

Updated

Right. I am O-U-T of here. Barry Glendenning is going to take over for a bit and then Scott Murray will swoop in, before moving on to cover the Chelsea v Tottenham match tonight.

Neville: "Will we ever see it again? It will be incredibly hard but you can never say never."

Neville: "He'd repeat that same thing every match, stand at the door and shake every players' hand."

Any regrets? "Not regrets," says Gary Neville. "That man has given his all. More than his all. Six o'clock every day into that training ground."

Gary Neville, everyone: "As a fan I'm sad and gutted,and as a player I'm priviliged to have worked for the greatest manager of all time. It's a loss all around. I'm shocked. You know when United don't squash a rumour, something of this magnitude, there's something in it. No one knew about this. It's a personal decision. You have to respect that. Most of us thought he would never retire. He's the last of a kind."

Updated

This is a must-watch. Sir Alex Ferguson's interview after being given the United job in 1986.

I'm guessing that David Moyes - or whoever! - isn't going to be announced as the new Manchester United manager this afternoon. "When our cat died we deliberately got a different type of cat so we didn't treat him as a rebound," says Alison Croft. "2 years later we still say "Jess wouldn't do that". So I guess angry Scot or not it's going to be hard for United fans to get used to some one new."

Updated

Here's the front cover of Manchester United's programme against Swansea this Sunday. "That man utd programme needs a comma between Thank You and Sir Alex," says AB. "That wouldn't have happened in Fergie's day."

Updated

The tributes just keep rolling in. Good old Twitters.com.

Word is that David Moyes met Everton's chairman Bill Kenwright in London this afternoon. Later he's off to watch Chelsea v Tottenham.

"Is it really such a good idea to get someone who's so superficially similar to Alex Ferguson, i.e. another Scottish tough guy?" says Kari Tulinius. "I'm reminded of the David Sedaris story about his parents' getting a replacement German Shepherd when their first, Maedchen, dies: "Maedchen was hit and killed by a car. Her food was still in the bowl when our father brought home an identical German Shepherd, the same Cindy christened as Maedchen Two. This tag-team progression was disconcerting, especially for the new dog, who was expected to possess both the knowledge and the personality of her predecessor. 'Maedchen One would never have wet on the floor like that,' my father would scold. And the dog would sigh, knowing she was the canine equivalent of a rebound." Is Moyes a managerial rebound? Will fans scold him too much when he wets the floor?"

By the way, there's a special mystery guest on tomorrow's Football Weekly. Bet you can't guess who.

Not Ferguson.

Updated

Twenty-seven years though. 27!

This is probably a good time to link to Danny Taylor's article from the other day about whether David Moyes will leave Everton this summer.

David Moyes is certainly keeping us waiting before it becomes clear whether he is going to remain at Everton, but it is tempting sometimes to wonder whether he ever looks at what happens elsewhere and considers that his current life, despite its restraints and occasional frustrations, at least offers some kind of security.

He might have noticed, say, the very different set of working practices that brought one of Manchester City's top executives, Txiki Begiristain, to Madrid to dine with the agent of the Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini, and the explanation that was swiftly cobbled together, when the two were caught in the act, that nothing too much should be read into it because it might simply have been to negotiate a player.

The agent does not actually represent any players but any form of embarrassment will quickly pass. City are doing only what just about every other club does in their position: assessing, planning and applying their own set of rules. It can be a cut-throat business and perhaps a reminder to Moyes, approaching one of the more important decisions of his professional life, that sometimes there is a lot to be said for working in a familiar environment where he knows this kind of thing does not go on.

His contract winds down in the next few weeks and it is surprising in many ways, in the absence of any clarity from Goodison, that there have been not more headlines about the fact it is still entirely up in the air and whether he intends to replace it with a new one. A part of that is because Moyes has straight-batted any questions with the stock reply that we will find out in the summer and not before.

Read more here.

And here's another offering.

This is a fine bit of nostalgia from our Guardian Witness app.

Updated

Here's Jamie Jackson's story on David Moyes potentially replacing Sir Alex Ferguson as Manchester United's manager. Jamie writes...

Manchester United are set to announce the appointment of David Moyes as Manchester United manager in the next 24 hours.

Following Alex Ferguson's retirement on Wednesday, the club have acted swiftly to identify the Everton manager as his successor.

Although there has been no official approach to Everton, it is understood that the 50-year-old will move to Old Trafford when his current deal expires at the end of the season.

The other leading contender, José Mourinho, was understood to never be in the running for the job and will instead join Chelsea in the summer subject to agreeing a compensation package with Real Madrid.

Remember Paolo Bandini? Of course you remember Paolo Bandini! His favourite Ferguson memory is when he crashed an Andy Murray press conference at the US Open last year while a little worse for wear with Sean Connery. That's probably when we should have known. Maybe the two of them can do a sitcom.

Here's Rob Smyth's verdict on Ferguson's greatest ever United XI. No room for William Prunier.

"One of the risk factors identified in the Man Utd prospectus when it floated in August: 'Any successor to our current manager may not be as successful as our current manager.'" writes Nick Fletcher.

Well not if they don't see sense and give it to Phil Brown.

"So it's pre Manchester United but one of my favourite Alex Ferguson moments of all time is this interview after the Scottish Cup Final of 1983," says Michael Meagher.

And Nick has just sent me this from David Buik, a market commentator with broker Panmure Gordon.

Manchester United shares – down 5.5% - $1.03 at $17.75 – Not a bad showing considering that markets have no problems dealing with good and bad news! They do not handle uncertainty, which is what they have tonight – Moyes or Mourinho or Klopp!

It is interesting looking at the major shareholders. With the exception of Lansdown Partners which owns 6% they are all US based investors – Glazer family 58%, Soros 8.5%, Blackrock 8%, Lansdown 6%, FMR 4.5%, Westfield 3.8%. So most would appear to be in quite safe hands.

I asked Nick Fletcher, our Stock Market report, whether the opening of the New York Stock Exchange will have had any bearing on whether or not Manchester United will announce their new manager today. Here's what he had to say:

"I don't think so. They've done what they need to do in making the announcement they have. If they had signed and sealed a deal they would probably announce that as soon as possible so I suppose it could either mean that they haven't decided exactly or that they haven't sorted out terms with the manager or the other club. But having said he's going, they don't need to work to the market's timetable as long as they announce anything important in a timely manner...

And on that point, the afternoon is dragging on. I doubt we'll find out who the next man is today. Unless United really hate newspapers...

Updated

Direct your thoughts on Ferguson's best and worst signings to this here blog.

Talking Man on Sky Sports News has just said there's only one place to start - Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement. I'm not sure they've actually shown anything else today.

"Can tomorrow's Guardian headline be: "Ferguson Resigns as Mr Manager of Man United"?" says Daniel Delahoyde. "Just for all the AD fans out there? (Which is surely EVERYONE.)"

"Considering the strife between the two in recent years, how would Rooney react to Moyes as his manager once more?" says Simon Nazer.

I reckon Rooney's off. Anichebe in.

"With Ferguson retiring at West Brom this weekend, that makes Villas Boas, Di Matteo, Gary Neville, Mick McCarthy and now him finished off by the Baggies," says Luke Jerromes. "West Brom: Football's Grim Reaper?"

Here's The Guardian's Stock Market Reporter, Nick Fletcher, with some City reaction. Not Manchester City, I hasten to add.

Sir Alex Ferguson is worth $142m to Manchester United, according to the US stock market. The club's shares fell 4.75% to $17.88 in early trading when the New York market opened a few minutes ago, as investors had their first chance to react to the news of Ferguson's retirement. Despite the $142m fall the club is still worth more than $2.9bn.

Joshua Raymond, chief market strategist at City Index said: "The club must make the announcement of Ferguson's replacement quickly. Uncertainty breeds nervousness and typically results in downward pressure on share prices.

"If shareholders needed an excuse to take their profits off the table, they got it this morning. But will the news impact long term shareholders who bought into the share price on the club's commercial prospects at this stage? I don't think so. Those selling Man Utd’s shares price today will do so out of fear and uncertainty.”

United's shares floated in New York last August at $14 each. In September they hit a low of $12 but have rallied as the club performed well on and off the pitch, winning the Premier League with games to spare and recently reporting a near 32% rise in revenues for the third quarter.

Updated

Sir Bobby Charlton has been speaking about his favourite Arrested Development character Sir Alex Ferguson.

He is such a fantastic manager. Everything he has done has been fantastic. He is a sensational person in every form and I am really delighted for him. I am a director but I hardly do anything because we are winning all the time and it is all down to Sir Alex Ferguson. He would get up in the middle of the night and travel 300 miles if he thought there was a school boy that he could sign. He loves the game and we at the club have had nothing to do really. He has made his decision on various grounds like (because of) his family and because of the hip operation he will have this summer."

Let me put my business cap on for a minute - it's not a very good cap, I once started a pumpkin business after 5 November - and tell you that Manchester United's shares are down 3.6% to $18.10 in the first five minutes of trading in New York. Apparently that's not a very big dip. Hurrah and hooray!

Thanks to Stine Strande for sending in this video of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's reaction.

If you'd like to see me, Ian Prior, Barry Glendenning and Owen Gibson prattling on in front of a camera about Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement, then you're in luck! At least you think you are. Maybe wait till you watch it first. Then decide.

Updated

My colleague Claire Phipps has just pointed out that David Moyes is the guest speaker at the Cambridge Union on Monday. Unless he's busy of course, she points out. Wonder what he'll be speaking about - how to get the best out of Victor Anichebe?

Updated

PARISH NOTICE: Tomorrow's sports section will have a special 20-page supplement about Sir Alex Ferguson tomorrow. Buy it and make me happy.

Updated

Guardian Witness wants you to share your memories of Sir Alex Ferguson here. Remember, sharing's caring.

Charles Arthur has written a piece about Ferguson's retirement sending Twitter into overdrive. That basically makes him Justin Bieber.

Well this must mean Falcao is going to Manchester United. You do the math.

Here are United's players out and about at the races. Don't they look smart!

Well. "Potential for a Giggs / Gary Neville managerial combo?" says Nigel Mitchell. "Neville with his acclaimed analysis, Giggs has the reputation of a great player – would that be enough to bring in the stars, whilst keeping the tradition? My head is melting !"

Updated

David Moyes is on his way to Chelsea ... to watch their game against Tottenham tonight. Gotcha!

And yet more. "On the 6th November 1986, I like you Jacob was in a womb, but on the 8th which was his first game in charge, I was born at the Oxford John Radcliffe Hospital," says Nick Pitt the Elder. "The team united played on that day, Oxford United away. Just down the road from the hospital. The yellows won 2-0. I imagine his successor would come in for some serious flack if his first game in charge was a repeat. I have been waiting for a suitably hysterical situation to share this tenuous information of my birth. Thank you."

So where were you when Ferguson got the job? "The egg cell that coded for half of my genetic information was waiting in my mother’s ovary and would not mature for another 2 years," says A Mount. "The sperm cell that became the other half did not yet exist, though it is possible that the cell which underwent the process of meiosis to become the sperm cell that became me was lurking somewhere in my father. Anyway, I should probably get back to teaching my Biology class."

Anyway, I'm back. Been having some lunch. Avram Grant is now on my television. It might end up broken.

David Moyes has just left Everton's training ground. I'm not sure what this signifies. As Barry Glendenning has just said "Man goes home from work at usual time!"

The theory seems to be that the announcement needed to come before the 2.30pm (BST) opening of the New York stock exchange because the story had perhaps leaked a little earlier than United intended it to. With the stock markets unkeen on uncertainty, the thought is that the club need to announce a successor soon. Theories, thoughts and presumptions there, obviously. TB

Sir Alex Ferguson, of course, was a great friend to journalists. Thanks again to Mark Redding for this tale.

Apparently David Moyes is dancing around his office to this.

Sky have just said there could be an announcement on Ferguson's successor this afternoon.

Where were you when Ferguson became United manager? I WAS IN A WOMB OK? So peaceful.

"As far as a successor goes I am surprised Frank De Boer hasn't been mentioned," says Joseph McCann. "He has won three titles in a row with Ajax and they play some fantastic football. I would love to see him get the job but then again I am a Celtic fan so I have nothing to lose."

It's going to be Moyes. I say this with absolutely no authority. But it's going to be Moyes.

Manchester United's fans are in mourning. I wonder if he'll get a state funeral at the end of the season. Sure, he's not actually dead - if you want to be pedantic - but we sure do put on a good show for the world.

"Interesting to see the odds falling on OGS, makes me wonder who is backing him," says Philip Hayes. "His record so far this season with Molde is played 7, won 0, drawn 2. Position: stone bonker last."

He has won titles there though. Can't see it being him, mind you. Surely he hasn't got the experience.

"What about Jupp Heynckes as a potential replacement, he was considering staying on at Bayern after all?" says Ryan Clark.

He doesn't really seem to fit what they're after.

If you've got a spare hour, I'd recommend watching this ITV documentary on Sir Alex Ferguson (I think it was ITV). It's from 1998.

My colleague Mark Redding sends me this in answer to the question about Ferguson's worst ever signing. Poor Ralph Milne!

"What kind of movements might we see in the wake of Ferguson's successor being appointed?" says William Dunleavy. "Who will replace his replacement? Making wild guesses at who will be managing where next season should kill you some time."

It was reported this morning that Everton are looking at Porto's manager Vítor Pereira as a potential replacement for Moyes. I wouldn't be surprised if they were to go for Roberto Martinez either.

Updated

"Those ladrokes odds are ancient," says David Pike. "As of now mourinho is at 11/4 Moyes 1/3."

Just keeping you on your toes.

Ruud van Nistelrooy doesn't bear a grudge.

More on Moyes here from Greg O'Keeffe off the Liverpool Echo.

IGNORE THE BETTING ODDS I POSTED HERE. Ignore them.

Updated

Here's an archive report from the day that United appointed Ferguson in 1986. Ferguson has been their manager longer than I've been alive.

"We've heard from Blatter, Bruce, Platinin et al..." says Sean Boiling. "But there's only one person we want to hear more from on this subject - Rob Smyth. Get him on the hotline Jacob." 

I'll try. I think he's writing something.

Updated

"I may be borrowing Sid Lowe's cynical hat here, but does the timing of this not ensure that Mourinho is nailed on for the job?" says Gavin Cooney. "After all, it looked as he was certain to return to Chelsea up to yesterday morning. Or perhaps it is related to Kenny Jacket's retirement at Milwall."

That was my initial reaction - and still one of my reactions - but everyone's saying David Moyes. We'll find out soon enough. Everyone relax! I guarantee that Manchester United will appoint a manager.

"My Dad's still got a betting slip in his wallet from 10 years ago, when Sir Alex was first going to retire, for George Graham to be his replacement," says Lewis Swallow.

This is brilliant. Paddy Crerand was interviewed on Irish radio station Newstalk this morning and was in complete denial that Ferguson was about to retire. Here's the audio. You have to listen to it. "I think it's a load of rubbish," he said.

Thanks to Paddy Murphy for sending it in.

More Steve Bruce, here on Ferguson's legacy..

"When you play for him, he rubs off on you. This winning mentality that he's got. He's so driven and determined and he works so hard at the job. There's no surprise that a few of us have gone into management. He sets such high standards that he's very difficult to copy. It's impossible to copy him. He's just quite remarkable.

Hull's manager and one of Ferguson's former captain, Steve Bruce, has been speaking. "I think we're shocked because nobody has seen it coming. Nobody has had the slightest hint of it. He must have thought long and hard. He's certainly going to be missed. It's going to be a big hole to fill.

On David Moyes: "He's certainly a very, very talented manager. It wouldn't surprise me if it is David.

"From what we hear about what Rafa Benitez has been saying, it's a done deal that Jose is going back to Chelsea. It's going to be one act to follow. I can assure you, the next manager won't be doing 27 years."

Champion of the people, Michel Platini, speaks.

Sir Alex has made a massive contribution to football, not only in Scotland and in England, but across Europe and beyond. His dedication, his attention to detail and his unique eye for talent, as both the manager of Manchester United FC and Aberdeen FC, has brought rich rewards over a 30-year period. His CV is almost unique in a results-based profession that normally focuses on short-term solutions rather than long-term vision. He is a true visionary and I hope that, having helped us in the past through various coaching initiatives, he will continue to collaborate with UEFA to share his fantastic knowledge with the next generation of up-and-coming European coaches who all wish to emulate his achievements in the sport."

"Who is driving the coach?" says Mark Judd. "This is the 'news' we all want, none of your frivolities. If it is David Moyes then it is a sure thing he is the man to take over United." Hopefully not Anderson.

"According to the financial blogger Andersred, United are set to increase their total turnover by roughly £150m within 3 years," says Paul Bergin. "This in tandem with other clubs like City, Chelsea & Liverpool all needing to get their finances in order means that whoever comes in will have a major financial advantage, even with the current interest. If it is Moyes then I'd be happy enough: he knows how to develop players and I generally think his ability in the transfer market is pretty

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