NOT all of it was positive, and little of it revolutionary, but after 27 years at its apex, Sir Alex Ferguson’s influence on English football is bound to endure.
His legacy can be seen across the country. Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew – on the losing Crystal Palace side when Ferguson lifted his first trophy – has studied the 71-year-old’s methods hard, and Ferguson’s former players have helped spread his habits on the Darsley Park training ground. Danny Simpson and Gabriel Obertan both joined from the Red Devils.
At Sunderland, his influence is even greater, the Black Cats trying hard to capture a little of his magic.
Former managers Steve Bruce and Roy Keane both spent the best years of their playing careers under Ferguson and Phil Bardsley, Wes Brown and John O’Shea are the latest in a long line of players to move from Old Trafford to the Stadium of Light. Even the club’s fitness and conditioning coach, Michael Clegg, is a former Fergie Fledgling.
Through the likes of Bryan Robson, Viv Anderson, Clayton Blackmore and Gary Walsh, Middlesbrough too have had a heavy Ferguson influence in recent years.
But on a broader level, what legacy will the Scot leave?
THE phrase “You can’t win anything with kids” used to be a footballing maxim. Now it can only be said with tongue in cheek.
Ferguson’s championing of youth was a revival of his club’s traditions, but the success of Gary and Phil Neville, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs offered encouragement to clubs everywhere that the best route to success was growing your own superstars.
IT is still too often forgotten in the panic of a relegation struggle, but under-fire managers always point to Ferguson’s flirtation with the sack in 1990 as justification for a little more patience.
Manchester United have always denied Ferguson would have lost his job had he not won the FA Cup that year, but if it had been down to the fans he almost certainly would.
STYLE OF FOOTBALL
THE long ball was king when Ferguson crossed the border in the mid-1980s but his insistence on passing and always looking to attack were hallmarks of his teams.
The sides that win silverware are the ones rival managers ape. If George Graham’s Arsenal had held sway a little longer, the Premier League years could have been very different.
THE notion of how late it is possible to win a football match was almost redefined by Bruce’s two late headers against Sheffield Wednesday en route to Ferguson’s first title in 1993. Sunderland made a habit of snatching points late in games under Keane, and Newcastle have done it at St James’ Park this spring.
IN his quest for victory Ferguson has shown a complete lack of respect for anyone crossing his path. Whether it be the on and off-field harassment of referees, his refusal to obey Premier League rules on Press conferences or his mental disintegration of rivals like “the wee club in the North East”, nothing has got in his way. Hopefully that bar can be reset once he has gone.
FERGUSON won 49 in all, 38 at Old Trafford. Since November 1986 the measure by which top English managers are judged has skyrocketed.
His Red Devils haul was:
Premier League: 1992-93, 1993-94, 1995-96, 1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2002-03, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2010-11, 2012-13.
FA Cup: 1989-90, 1993-94, 1995-96, 1998-99, 2003-04.
League Cup: 1991-92, 2005-06, 2008-09, 2009-10.
Charity/Community Shield: 1990 (shared), 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011.
Champions League: 1998-99, 2007-08.
European Cup Winners’ Cup: 1990-91.European Super Cup: 1991.Intercontinental Cup: 1999.FIFA Club World Cup: 2008.1990-91.
European Super Cup: 1991.
Intercontinental Cup: 1999.
FIFA Club World Cup: 2008.