For a manager in the modern game to have remained at a top club for the amount of years Sir Alex Ferguson has, it is testament to both the club, players and of course the manager himself.
In a time where the managerial door is a revolving one, case in point Chelsea, and boards having little patience for managers who fail to deliver in a short space of time, some may wonder how Fergie has remained in our dugout since 1986.
One of the obvious reasons is the success that Fergie has brought to the club, building several brilliant, winning teams. He has guided inexperienced young players from the very start of their careers to their twilight years – the boys from ‘92 are a perfect example, with Giggs, Scholes and the Neville brothers like sons to the Scotsman. No manager in the game has presided over such a successful tenure at a club.
You only have to look at the trouble Wenger is evidently having now, his team has been in ‘transition’ since their season of being the ‘invincibles’. Seven years later and all Arsenal have achieved is a new stadium which they will struggle to fill should their trophy drought go on much longer. Yet in this time Fergie has built and rebuilt numerous sides, losing players such as Ronaldo and Tevez, yet still winning trophies on a regular baisis.
Credit has to be given to the board at Old Trafford, who during the ‘darkest moments of his career’, resisted calls to sack him and assured him of their faith.
Looking at it they made the right decision and we have been richly rewarded.
As Chelsea rose following Arsenal’s ‘invincible’ season, certain less knowledgeable people in the game suggested it was time for Fergie to retire and we get a new younger manager in. Some of these were the same ‘expert pundits’ who also stated that nothing could be won with kids but again the men upstairs knew that this would be folly, and Fergie remained to win countless more trophies, re-establishing United’s dominance at the top of the game.
United fans will look at the treble winning season of ‘99 fondly and as one of our greatest achievements, with young players who had been raised by the club aided by stellar signings dramatically winning the European Cup at the Nou Camp. After this came a knighthood for Fergie and two more titles.
After such success, a lull was inevitable, and rebuilding of the squad and transition took place – again showing how great Fergie is at knowing when it is time to freshen things up. Big name players left, new ones arrived and Fergie agreed not to retire as was his previous plan after the end of the 2002 campaign.
In the following seasons, sparring with Wenger and Mourinho occurred, players such as Evra, Van Der Sar, Vidic and Rooney arriving – not to mention the emergence of one of the best players in the game Cristiano Ronaldo. United saw off the challenges from both domestic rivals and European ones, winning a second European Cup in Moscow after John Terry and Anelka missed penalties. It was a triumph for a manager who many thought had reached the peaked of his powers years before but United were coming back to dominance and the world knew it.
In the seasons that followed, United were the ones to beat domestically, yet in 2009 were well beaten by one of the best club sides the world has ever seen in Barcelona so for a third time in his managerial career at United, Fergie began rebuilding the team to establish European success once more.
Several key players from the last few seasons retired, veteran Van Der Sar, the irreplaceable Scholes and Garry Neville all hung up their boots, and Fergie has once again placed faith in the club’s younger generation. Inexperienced lads like Chicharito, Cleverley, Jones and Welbeck have both been brought in or back from loan and crucially given the chance to perform. In both pre-season and the opening rounds of the Premier league we have has reaped the rewards as faith in players such as Danny Welbeck has borne fruit with brilliant performances and vital goals.
Fergie has a history of keeping faith with young players who have had a difficult start and his backing, both publically and in private, of keeper David De Gea will have helped the Spaniard no end – Fergie is one of the best in the world at bringing young players through, and although infamously he will use the hairdryer when things are not going to plan, he also has the ability to listen and put an arm around the players who need it.
The Community Shield win and the mauling of Arsenal, not to mention the fact that United’s ‘injury crisis’ has gone relatively unnoticed due to the strength and depth of the squad mean that this side look like having great things to give, and with the most valuable asset United have – Fergie himself – at the helm, who would bet against them?