When Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson decided to announce he would retire at the end of the 2004 season, the football world was thrown into confusion – true, up until then, he had been one of the greatest managers in the British game but many football fans wondered why he had taken this decision. Sir Alex probably had the same thoughts as he went back on this decision and since then has gone on to win a further nine major titles including taking United to their third (and his second) Champions League title in 2008. Now when he does decide to finally retire fans will not see him as one of the best in Britain but as probably the best.
Ferguson has been a winner since he first entered management with St Mirren – claiming the Scottish 1st Division title in 1977 before he moved onto a very successful period with unfashionable Aberdeen. With the north-eastern Scottish club he managed to break the Old Firm‘s stranglehold and won three league titles, four domestic cups and more impressively, a European Cup Winners Cup win against European aristocrats Real Madrid in 1983. His exploits north of the border saw him enticed to Manchester United in 1986 where he did not have the best start to his career. Indeed, there were rumours that he would be fired from the job but finally Ferguson won United’s first league title in 18 years in 1993. Since then he has won 10 more league titles and could make that 11 this season which would take Manchester United beyond Liverpool to become the most successful English club side. He has also won five FA Cups, 3 League Cups, 2 Champions League titles and two World Club titles.
Throughout his successful career, Fergie has never been too far away from controversy, whether that be arguing with opposing managers, criticising referees, selling superstars from his own team or fighting with the media. Though there is now a sense of mutual respect between the two longest-serving managers in the Premier League, there was a time when Arsenal manager Wenger and Ferguson could not be described as friends and this enmity could be seen in the way that their players performed against each other. Other managers to fall foul of the United manager included former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez against whom Ferguson seemed to enjoy playing his so-called mind games. The Scottish manager also demonstrated that he had no time for prima donnas at his club and over the years has moved players such as Paul Ince, Jaap Staam, David Beckham, Roy Keane and Ruud Van Nistleroy out of the club as soon as he felt they had stepped out of line.
Ferguson will be 70 at the end of the year and yet again there is talk of him retiring. The man himself says no but if he were to win a record-breaking 19th league title for United and a 4th major European trophy then there might not be a better time to do so.
he went back on this decision: To change his mind, to reverse a decision
he first entered management: To enter a profession means to start a career in something, to start work in
claiming the Scottish 1st Division title: Winning the title
unfashionable: The side were not as big or as strong as powerhouses Celtic and Rangers
Old Firm: Nickname of the rivalry between Celtic and Rangers
stranglehold: A firm grip on; the big two teams won the title most years – other teams could not make a breakthrough
exploits: His achievements
enticed to: Tempted to, he was asked to join another team
mutual respect: Both managers now like each other or at least understand each other
enmity: Bad feeling
to fall foul of: To have a bad experience with
his so-called mind games: Ferguson is ‘famous’ for using psychology to aid his team’s chances
- Attribution: Austin Osuide / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)