I have been going to write a post on Alex Ferguson for some time, but as a Leeds United fan, it is hard to write something positive about a fierce rival, but on the eve of his resignation it would seem that now is the appropriate time.
As much as I hate Manchester United, and I am not alone in this, I have to respect the achievements of Alex Ferguson.
Achieving success is a difficult, but to achieve it consistently over a 30 plus year period is outstanding.
I personally believe that his achievements prior to taking over at Manchester were the most impressive of his career.
He took an unfashionable Aberdeen team, and not only became the first team outside of the Glasgow giants of Celtic or Rangers to win the league in over 15 years, but also achieved European success beating Real Madrid to win the European Cup Winners Cup, this wasn’t a David v Goliath type achievement, this was David’s little brother beating, Goliath’s big brother.
Alex Ferguson knows exactly what’s needed to create a Winning Culture, he inspires his teams to greatness, and selects not just the best players, but those who share his aspirations. He is ruthless when it comes to removing players who do not share his ethos, but he is also fearless when it comes to defending those that do.
Often despised by supporters of other clubs, but very much respected and any of those supporters would have been happy to have had him as their manager.
The most interesting aspect for me was how he continued to motivate his players year after year, true there were often new players brought into the team, but over a 10 year period he had a consistent core of players, Schmeichel, Neveille, Butt, Beckham, Scholes and Giggs. With the last two Scholes and Giggs still playing for him after 18 years.
What do you say to a player after 18 years to motivate them; what can you tell him that he hasn’t heard before.
Often Managers and Leaders have a shelf life and after a given number of years, may 3, 4 or 5; and after that they have nothing knew to say; they can no longer inspire their teams; and they need to move on to a new team to start their process of inspiration of progress again.
Ferguson has done that for 26 years at Manchester, and that is truly and outstanding achievement. No doubt about it.
His record speaks for itself, he has won 49 trophies including:
Champions League (2), Premier League (13), FA Cup (5), League Cup (4), Club World Cup (1), Intercontinental Cup (1), Cup Winners’ Cup (2) European Super Cup (2), Community Shield (10), Scottish Premier League (3), Scottish Cup (4), Scottish League Cup (1), and Scottish First Division (1).
Many people claim that he is the greatest football manager of all time.
I am not so sure I agree with that.
In my opinion, he is the greatest domestic manager of all time, for sure.
But Ferguson has only won 5 trophies in Europe, 2 with Aberdeen and only 3 with Manchester, and has only won the Champions League twice.
Given Manchester United domestic dominance, over the past 20 years, this doesn’t seem like a very good enough return.
During this same period 5 other managers: Vincente Del Bosque; Carlo Anccelotti; Jose Mourinho; and Pep Guardiola have all won 2 Champions League titles.
Vincente Del Bosque, then took over as Spanish National Manager went on to win European Championship twice and the World Cup with Spain.
Jose Mourinho has won league titles in Portual, England, Italy and Spain, as well as 2 Champions League Trophies, and is still only 50.
Whilst Pep Guardiola has only been in management 5 years and in that period he won 14 trophies with Barcelona, including 2 Champions League Trophies.
The greatest manager of all time is a debate that will continue, Ferguson is definitely in the discussion, but I am not sure that he is the greatest.
I am happy to see him go out as a Winner, which he has been throughout his career, he has my highest respect and I wish him a happy, well earned retirement.
What’s your view, do you think he is the greatest, if not who do you think is better, and why?