MANCHESTER, England (REUTERS) - Shock, uncertainty and an air of inevitability hung in the air on the red side of Manchester on Wednesday as fans digested Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement announcement.
Some milled around Old Trafford, where the Sir Alex Ferguson stand and statue of the Scot are the very visible reminders of just how important he has been for Manchester United, while others calmed their nerves with a pint in the pub.
While many former players had spoken of their shock at Ferguson's decision, for a lot of supporters there was a sense that with the manager aged 71 and with the club having just reclaimed the Premier League title from Manchester City, the news was not entirely unexpected even if it was unwelcome.
"I'm gutted he's going. But all the signs have been there - the fact (manager) Jose Mourinho looks like he's going to be free from Real Madrid and also the rumours of Cristiano Ronaldo (coming back) tie in with that," pub landlord Dave Pawson said.
While former Chelsea boss Mourinho is among those being mentioned as a possible successor to Ferguson, the hot favourite is Everton manager David Moyes.
"I have been a season-ticket holder for 32 years but I will not be renewing it if we get Moyes," Mr Pawson added. "I've got a friend who has eight executive seats at 5,000 pounds (S$9,600) each and he's not renewing them either.
"It's the right time, wrong replacement. He has no real Champions League experience, he is unproven, it's a massive risk to spend 1,500 pounds on a season ticket."
Not everyone was as pessimistic about Ferguson's fellow Scot Moyes.
"We don't want an ego to come in for two years and then leave us in the lurch. Mourinho would bring instability. I'd settle for Moyes," retired Andy Hamilton said.
"I knew he was going to go. I knew this team was not going to be good enough to win a European Cup but we have the league back so it is the right time for him to go.
"It could be the start of a barren spell though. The team is in a sorry state, we haven't got a midfield, they are going to have to spend a lot of money."
While many fans like Mr Hamilton can remember the pre-Ferguson days more than a quarter of a century ago when trophies were not forthcoming, some have only ever known success and believe it will continue.
"It was a shock," legal trainee and season ticket holder Matt Kirk, 25, said.
"I think in the league next season we will be there or thereabouts. In the Champions League we are not at the level of the German teams with or without Ferguson. The new manager needs to be given time, at least three seasons."
The local paper was preparing a 32-page pull-out that will ensure United enjoy more column inches than their neighbours during a week that City fans could have been forgiven for thinking was all about them before Saturday's FA Cup final.
They, however, could be looking on the bright side as a United without Ferguson is an unknown quantity.
"City haven't been at their best in the league this season but now he's retired they will feel a bit better," local media quoted former United player Denis Law as saying.