Guardiola sends ‘big hug’ to his friend Sir Alex Ferguson

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has sent his best wishes to Sir Alex Ferguson for a speedy recovery.

The former Manchester United boss, 76, is seriously ill in intensive care after undergoing emergency surgery following a brain haemorrhage.

The Scot is good friends with Guardiola, and at one stage the Catalan had looked a contender to replace Ferguson at Old Trafford.

Ferguson enjoyed incredible success with the Red Devils, winning 38 trophies in 26-and-a-half years in charge before retiring in May 2013.

Ferguson took Guardiola out to dinner just two weeks ago to congratulate him on winning this season’s Premier League title with City, and the Spaniard is hoping his friend makes a swift recovery.

He told Sky Sports ahead of City’s match against Huddersfield: “Brian Kidd, who is here now, was with (Sir Alex) for a lot of time.

“So a big hug and our thoughts are with his wife Cathy and the Manchester United family. I was glad to have dinner with him two weeks ago, and hopefully he can recover as quickly as possible.”

There had been no updates from United or from Salford Royal, where Ferguson was admitted, by 1.30pm on Sunday afternoon.

The club said on Saturday night that the surgery had gone “very well” but that Ferguson would need a period of intensive care to aid his recovery.

Ferguson had appeared fit and well when he presented his old sparring partner Arsene Wenger with a memento at Old Trafford last Sunday ahead of the Frenchman’s departure from Arsenal.

But rumours began to circulate about the 76-year-old’s health after Doncaster manager Darren Ferguson, Sir Alex’s son, did not attend his side’s final match of the League One season against Wigan because of what was reported as a “severe family issue”.

The Football Association, Premier League, FIFA, UEFA and individual clubs from Britain and around the world tweeted their best wishes along with a host of current and former United players.

Former United striker Wayne Rooney wrote on Twitter: “Get well soon Boss. Thoughts with all the family at this sad time. #AlexFerguson”

United club captain Michael Carrick said he was “absolutely devastated” by the news, adding in a post on Twitter: “All my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. Be strong Boss.”

And Cristiano Ronaldo, who was signed by Ferguson as an 18-year-old in 2003, said on the social network: “My thoughts and prayers are with you, my dear friend. Be strong, Boss!”

Ferguson had a prolific career as a striker in Scotland but it was when he entered management that his true talent in football became clear.

After transforming St Mirren, Ferguson took over the hot-seat at Aberdeen and guided them to the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1983, beating Real Madrid in the final.

Alex Ferguson File Photo
Alex Ferguson took over at Old Trafford in 1986 (PA Archive)

Success did not come immediately, and football folklore has it that Ferguson was nearly shown the door himself before an FA Cup triumph in 1990 paved the way for an unprecedented two decades of glory.

The highlight was United’s treble of Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup in 1999, and he went on to achieve more European glory in 2008 as well as 13 league titles.

Ferguson also received good wishes from United’s rivals Manchester City, who joined other clubs in wishing him well, some using the hashtag “football family”.

“Everyone at Manchester City wishes Sir Alex Ferguson a full and speedy recovery after his surgery,” they said.

Aberdeen Football club added: “The thoughts and prayers of everyone connected with Aberdeen Football Club are with our former manager, Sir Alex Ferguson and his family following tonight’s news.”

Manchester United forward Jesse Lingard said: “Thoughts and prayers sir alex,” left-back Luke Shaw tweeted: “Sending my love and best wishes to sir Alex,” while former goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel wrote: “Please Be strong Win this one.”

In their statement, the club added: “His family request privacy in this matter. Everyone at Manchester United sends our very best wishes.”

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