There’s always been debate over who is a better manager: Sir Alex Ferguson or Jose Mourinho. But over the past month, as Barcelona stole Mourinho’s hopes of Champions League and La Liga glory, and Manchester United move into the Champions League final and are one point from sealing the title, it’s looking like one of these managers is starting to outshine the other.
Peter Schmeichel, Manchester United’s goalkeeper in the legendary 1999 treble winning side, believes that this year has sealed what so many of us were already considering: that Ferguson is indeed the best manager in the football world.
“I regard him as the best manager in the world,” Schmeichel said, as reported by the Daily Mirror.
"When we won the treble, he had been building the team for years, putting that kind of confidence in us.
"He made us believe we were the best team in world and had the right to win everything we competed for. That’s how good we were, no one was even close to us. When you have that kind of belief, a lot of things can happen - and they did."
Ferguson’s talent at spotting players is another point that has been proven again this year. In August, a young Mexican star by the name of Javier Hernandez was purchased for a bargain £6 million – fast forward to the present, and Hernandez has equaled United hero Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of 20 goals in a debut season.
Schmeichel knows this wasn’t just luck; Ferguson has a knack for choosing which players have star quality, and equally, he can pick the players that are not good enough for Manchester United.
"He is someone who could spot the player’s actual level," Schmeichel said.
"He could spot the player and say: 'In three months time this player will not be valuable for this club and that’s why he has to go.'
"Or he might say: 'I will buy that player because, in 18 months, I need him to do this.' That’s the kind of manager he is.
“In 1998, he added Dwight Yorke, for instance, to the team and for me he was the perfect person to add to the squad because he gave us something, not only on the pitch, but in the dressing room as well.
"He lifted the spirit in the dressing room. It would be him who would say: ‘We have 13 games to go and to win all 13 would be incredible’. When you start believing in that, and the manager starts believing, you start believing it is possible.”
1999 was a year of total glory for Manchester United, with the side winning the treble under Ferguson’s guidance. With Gary Neville’s testimonial coming up in a couple of weeks, and a host of past stars, including Dwight Yorke, returning to Old Trafford to take on 1999 semi final opposition Juventus, Schmeichel can’t help but take a trip down memory lane.
"When you get away from it, we are 12 years down the line now, I have the same feeling as you have: Wow, that was really incredible. How did that happen?
"Looking back, I’m so proud I was part of that and I’m proud I was one of those players.
“We had a manager who is top class and players who were fantastic. I’m proud to have been part of that.”
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