A transitional season awaits
It was a remarkably strange close season as some of the biggest names in English football called time on their careers; this wasn't just big names on the pitch but also a notable managerial retirement too...
We analyze why this could be a major transitional summer for English soccer.
Sir Alex Ferguson at the very last minute decided to retire from football, shocking millions of fans the world over. In truth, his retirement had been expected for some time (this was of course not the first time he decided to hand in his retirement), but the short notice of it all surprised many.
Alongside Sir Alex's retirement came a swath of retirements from the staff who once played under him. Consider the retirement of some of the likes of David Beckham, who gave Sir Alex years of excellent service in the Manchester United midfield; to Paul Scholes who had came out of retirement to begin playing for United again. Whilst Michael Owen didn't spend his entire career at United, he was certainly a happier player under Sir Alex Ferguson than he was under any other coach he'd been managed by in the past.
Liverpool's club legend Jamie Carragher also announced his retirement last year. The former England international centre back arguably was one of the finest defensive players of his generation. The defender spent his entire career with the Anfield side, and will reportedly move into TV punditry this summer. After 23 years with the club, Carragher emotionally played his final game last month. The defender almost nearly scored, too, amazingly that would have been only his fifth goal in over 500 games.
Phil Neville has also reportedly decided to retire from football. The defender has played over 500 games for his two clubs, Manchester United and then Everton. With reports that Neville will be moving into management sometime soon, it's easy to see him back in football very quickly.
Another player who Premier League fans, especially Aston Villa fans, will sorely miss is that of Stiliyan Petrov. The defensive midfielder called time on his career early at the age of only 33, playing almost 200 games for the Villans. Of course there is hope that Petrov will go on to fully recover from leukemia, which he was diagnosed with in March 2012.
The Premier League will sorely miss all of the above names. Football will miss them, but there is a chance some of them will of course stay in football. It's rumoured that David Beckham is set to take charge of a Major League Soccer team in Miami. There's also reports that Michael Owen will try for his coaching badges next year. Then, of course, Sir Alex Ferguson; he will for the next season work "upstairs" at Manchester United, whilst still helping David Moyes attend to some first team affairs.
It's not just players from or currently in England who have quit football. Michael Ballack, who enjoyed a few successful seasons playing for Chelsea has also called time on his illustrious playing career. Another name who football fans are sure to miss is Mark Van Bommel. The former Dutch international called time on his career in typical fashion, with a red card on his final game.
Whatever the future holds for these big names, it's going to be an interesting time for football without them.