This piece on Sir Alex Ferguson is from guest contributor Nathan House
Uncertain territory. The unknown. The non-explored, put it however you want.
For the first time since 1986, Manchester United face the daunting prospect of not being under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson.
His announcement in April was a shock to the world; everyone knew it would have to happen eventually, but just not yet.
A man synonymous with rigorous discipline, a never-say-die attitude and bucket loads of success who, over his twenty-seven year tenure at Old Trafford managed to ‘father’ so many, yet keep those who required it in military-esque check.
His print will be engraved on United’s long and rich history, forever.
We haven’t even touched on his competence in his employment, to manage a football team that wins matches and achieves together. Football management is like a finely tuned engine held together by various bolts and each bolt needs ultimate attention, just one bolt out of place will lead to the engine failing. Even as we approach the age of Executives and Chiefs for every single aspect of running a football club, a manager is the hub of this whole system.
His roles extend from transferring players and picking the eighteen on match-day to hand selecting his staff that will work alongside him to carefully planning routes to and from matches. These days the manager plays a role that ten to fifteen years ago didn’t exist, he is the middle ground between the owner, his chosen board members and the players themselves, an equally key yet dependent relationship. Somehow, Sir Alex Ferguson seemed to hold things together effortlessly for arguably the biggest club in world football. As football progressed into the multi-billion pound business it is today a managers workload has become lighter, scouts and coaches do all the managers dirty work but people tend to forget, the manager gave those coaches the responsibility to coach, so therefore the manager is responsible.
This may sound like I believe football management to be easy, far from it actually. The amount of men who have fallen foul to Mr Abramovich’s Stamford Bridge monotone is touching double figures, Roberto Mancini led Man City to their first trophy and then title in two consecutive seasons and this didn’t help him. Liverpool went downhill rapidly when Benitez left in 2010 due to who they appointed to replace him. After Roy Hodgson disrupted Benitez’ Liverpool, ‘King Kenny’ seemed to send them backwards further. Liverpool’s domination of the 70’s and 80’s, their footballing pedigree and undoubted history all meant nothing, when appointing the wrong manager.
Now this gets interesting indeed. As a Red through and through I am of the opinion, to very little surprise, that ultimately longevity and stability are paramount to success. This leads me somewhat nicely on to Arsenal and in particular, Arsene Wenger. His ‘2004 Invincibles’ are simply the best domestic side ever assembled, Arsenal’s rise in reputation around Europe for playing beautiful football was meteoric but again, past glories don’t facilitate Arsenal’s EIGHT seasons without a trophy of sorts. This makes Sir Alex’s regular yet unique successes all the more spectacular and makes a fool of those who bemoan trigger-happy foreign owners, clearly stability doesn’t always incite success.
Did Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ set a bench mark that today’s crop of players struggle to live up to? Did the players struggle with the whisper that after their invincible season, the only way was down? Maybe Henry, Viera, Pires, Bergkamp and co were a one-off bunch of individuals who, once pulled together by Arsene Wenger, were freakishly special. What I’m getting at is Arsene Wenger, whilst not doubting his managerial ability, has moulded only one top class side to date, whilst Sir Alex moulded a handful.
His replacement? David Moyes. No European pedigree, no honours but plenty of experience and a steely Glaswegian determination that characterizes Sir Alex Ferguson himself. ‘He’s come from Everton and they’re not a big club!’ The doubters exclaim to anyone who even touches on the subject of Manchester United.
To those people my message is simple, on the 5th November 1986 Manchester United approached the man they believed could take them to that next level, he came from a successful, yet small Scottish team called Aberdeen and look what happened there……”