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Key moments in Ferguson's managerial career

* Managed Scottish sides East Stirlingshire, St Mirren and Aberdeen and was Scotland's caretaker manager at the 1986 World Cup finals before moving to United.

* After starting his managerial career at tiny East Stirlingshire in 1974, he left soon after for St Mirren, who in 1978 became the only club to sack him.

* Became Aberdeen's manager in 1978 and led them to the first of three league titles under his tenure in 1980.

* At Aberdeen he broke Rangers' and Celtic's Old Firm domination in Scotland, following the 1980 title with two more in 1984 and 1985. He also won three Scottish FA Cups in a row in 1982, 1983 and 1984 before another success in 1986.

* As well as those domestic honours, his Aberdeen side stunned Europe when they beat Real Madrid to win the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1983.

* While still at Aberdeen in 1984 he was given the chane to become Arsenal and then Tottenham Hotspur's manager. Discussions with Arsenal did not progress far but they did with Spurs, who offered him a three-year contract when he wanted a five-year deal. He decided to stay at Aberdeen instead.

* Ferguson left Pittodrie for Old Trafford on November 6, 1986, after the dismissal of Ron Atkinson.

* A turning point in United's fortunes came on January 7, 1990. After winning nothing in his first three years at Old Trafford, and with fans demanding his sacking, Mark Robins scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory at Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup Third Round replay. United went on to win the trophy, beating Crystal Palace in the replayed final for a first trophy under Ferguson.

* Another key moment was bringing Eric Cantona to Old Trafford from Leeds United in November 1992. Ferguson has described the Frenchman as his single most important signing for the club.

* United won the inaugural Premier League title in 1993 to end a 26-year wait after Matt Busby's last title success in 1967.

* The following season United won the league and FA Cup double for the first of three times under Ferguson. The catalyst was Cantona, whose two penalties in the 4-0 Cup final victory over Chelsea were among the 25 goals he scored in 48 appearances in all competitions that season.

* Ferguson stood solidly behind Cantona in January 1995 when he was banned for eight months after his kung-fu attack on a fan after being sent off in a match at Crystal Palace.

* Ferguson ordered United's players to change their shirts from grey to red at half-time during a defeat at Southampton claiming "the players couldn't see each other at a distance when they lifted their heads". United have never worn grey since.

* After another double in 1995/96, and a league title in 1997, United became the first Englsih team to win the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup treble on a momentous night in Barcelona, coming from behind to beat Bayern Munich 2-1 on what would have been Matt Busby's 90th birthday.

* Further titles followed in 2000, 2001 and 2003 with the team based around the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and David Beckham. During this period, in 2002, Ferguson signalled his intention to retire, but later changed his mind.

* He also coined the e