On the 6th of November 1986, Manchester United announced the signature of Scottish manager Alex Ferguson from Aberdeen. United were 21st in the league (second from bottom) before the Glaswegian arrived. His first game was a 2-0 loss at minnows Oxford United, then a 0-0 draw with Norwich, before Lou Macari scored a free kick to make it 1-0 in his first win at home to QPR. Since then the man from Govan has built on Sir Matt Busby’s foundations and made Manchester United into a team like no other, gaining a knighthood on the way. He is widely regarded as the greatest manager of all time and not just by United fans. Jose Mourinho, the special one himself, said ‘Alex Ferguson is a unique manager in European football’. Mourinho is one of the few men to have beaten Ferguson’s United team to a premier league, but he is another example of a manager who left the English game winning the title 2 years in a row. If Ferguson had of done the same he would have left in 1994, but 17 years later he’s still as red-faced as ever.
This week, a journalist asked David Beckham; ‘What do you think of the rise of Manchester City?’ To which he replied; ‘The rise of who?’ Ferguson has implemented players coming through the ranks the unerring sense of pride at Manchester United, and it’s for this reason that the team is so pitiless and will dig deeper and deeper as soon as the clock ticks to 90 minutes. How many times have we seen it happen? Manchester United 4-3 Manchester City, Bayern Munich 1-2 Manchester United, Liverpool 0-1 Manchester United, Manchester United 3-2 Aston Villa, and so on and so forth, the list continues. This is an aspect of Ferguson’s mentality which we never really saw with Busby. He made much different teams with players such as Duncan Edwards, Bobby Charlton and George Best who would bury games before there would have been need for a last-gasp winner, but you can argue that Ferguson’s team are much more together, with all the players on a very similar level and usually no need to rely on a star player. The obvious exceptions are Ronaldo and Cantona, but they were both part of a team which had players that if they weren’t part of a team with either of these 2, they themselves would take the lead, as Wayne Rooney did.
But for me, it’s not the togetherness of the team, not the brutality of the last few minutes in any game, but the ruthlessness of the manager. This ruthlessness alongside confidence in his own ability shows anything is possible in his hands. David Beckham, Jaap Stam, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Roy Keane are all players who opposed him and they were duly out the door. Every time, he has managed to replace them and brought in another young squad who is capable of winning things. However, some United fans will argue that Roy Keane has never been replaced and it is the fragility of the midfield which is a weakness in the current team. Darren Fletcher, Anderson and Tom Cleverley are all players full of spirit and will work endlessly, but they are all attacking minded players. In my opinion Fergie should sign a hard-working defensive midfielder who will get sent off every other game. In typical Kean-o fashion.
On the 5th of November the Stretford End revealed a banner which reads – ‘The Impossible Dream – Sir Alex 25 Years – Made Possible’. The impossible dream of beating Liverpool’s premier league title record has been done by an inspirational manager who will no doubt go on and try and overturn there European record. Who will replace him I don’t know, but you and I will get up of our arses and applaud him till the sun goes down. Even the Scally’s and the Blue’s. ‘What is this team destined to win?’, I hear you asking. Well in my view, not much. This is not his greatest team and this was made evident by the 6-1 dumping at the hands of Manchester City. But will Roberto Mancini bring the kind of continued success that Fergie has? I don’t think so, Fergie’ll be back for more. This team is very young, and as we know too well; ‘You can’t win anything with kids…’
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