These are the numbers that matter and on Sunday when Sir Alex steps into the dug out at Stamford Bridge ahead of our game against Chelsea he will have broken the club’s record as the longest serving manager. The record is currently held by Sir Matt Busby but on Sunday, Sir Alex will surpass Sir Matt by the most delicate of margins – 1 day.
When Sir Alex took over nobody knew what would lie ahead especially after he lost his first game 2-0 to Oxford but fast forward and we can be thankful that some patience was shown by Martin Edwards and the board but also that Sir Bobby Charlton stood by his side when things weren’t going well.
Sir Matt’s son Sandy has spoken saying his father would be proud that Sir Alex is the man to break his record:
“He would be so proud of what Alex has achieved for United and I know he couldn’t think of a better man to succeed him as the club’s longest-serving manager.”
Sir Alex’s achievements are ridiculous, domestic as well as European success have been a hallmark of his career but to sit here and list everything he has won would be easy. It isn’t just his trophies that have made him and his spell here remarkable. Unlike other clubs, Sir Alex is Man United.
Even if he was younger I couldn’t see Sir Alex at another club (despite him saying he wouldn’t have minded the Barca job). He eats, breaths and sleeps the club and not a lot of other managers can be said to fit this mould. Jose Mourinho for all his success has bounced from club to club and has never really built a proper affinity with a club, Chelsea love him for bringing them trophies but it appears that he would be interested in managing United if he returned. If by some miracle Sir Alex was to leave the club I couldn’t see him going to manage another team in the country especially not a team we are in direct competition with.
The word dynasty is mentioned in regards to Sir Alex’s spell at the club but I don’t think people really understand how deep it runs. This is a man that has built teams and not just one, numerous teams who have gone on to succeed and achieve when people have doubted. How many times has Sir Alex and Manchester United been written off only for people to have to eat crow? For me the most satisfying was breaking the duck in 07. We had gone through a bad spell, we had previously had a weaker squad than we weren’t used to seeing and Roman’s millions were making Jose’s men seem invincible and whilst everyone seemed content to believe there had been a power shift Sir Alex remained confident in the side he was building and proceeded to reclaim his, yes his title.
From the top to the bottom Sir Alex knows Manchester United and commands a respect there as well as in the game that not many others can say they do. Previously there was a fear factor involved with him, the hairdryer is known worldwide but as he has aged this has evolved much more into a respect and the players will tell you themselves the hairdryer isn’t as frequent as it was in the past, it isn’t necessary. A number of player have come through the club and fans will argue who is a great and who is a legend but Sir Alex’s status will never be in question. For all these players that have performed on field, the success would not have been possible without Sir Alex at the helm.
There is so much more that can be said about Sir Alex but I don’t want to harp on, I genuinely don’t feel like I am worthy to be speaking on a man who has managed the biggest club in the world longer than I have been alive. What do I know? I can only try and express my admiration and even reading this I don’t think I have done a good job but whether I have or not or any journalist who will attempt to do the same thing succeeds or fails it can’t and won’t detract from his achievements.
24 years, one month and 14 days, these are the numbers that matter.