Charles Dickens would have found plenty of character and colour in the contrast between Manchester United and Manchester City over the past weekend.
The strutting, over-confident, mercenary players of City submitting in the FA Cup Final to the application and pride of Wigan Athletic from sixteen places below them in the Premiership, and manager Roberto Mancini already aware that someone is waiting in the wings to take his seat. Compare with 71-year-old Alex Ferguson walking onto the pitch at Old Trafford for the last time as manager, the stands a 75'000 surging sea of red support, and then ninety-odd minutes later celebrating with the crowd and his players a typical United last-minute goal victory to consolidate his twenty-fifth major trophy won for United since he joined the club in 1968. It could not have been scripted better.

Were we seeing the last of the long-serving manager who remains with his club through good and bad times? Will short-term or even “Interim” appointments now become the norm as the race to the top sometimes seems headed instead for the bottom in its loss of sporting values and respect for others? Alex Ferguson was not always a model -- some of his encounters with officialdom were embarrassing -- but he was unquestionably the greatest of his time. He will be missed.