Football supporters up and down the country are often very critical of Sir Alex Ferguson.

His Manchester United side are often accused of receiving preferential treatment, whilst others berate the Scottish tactician for his apparent influence over officials.

Ferguson's success in management has come through sheer hard work over many years. He has earned the right to be a huge presence in the game but sometimes supporters can mistakenly interpret this as him using his stature to influence referees and the football hierarchy.

True, Ferguson can be outspoken and opinionated but this is the character of the man and the passion he has for the game of football, particularly Manchester United.

To manage such a huge club since 1986, and also build many successful sides over his tenure, takes a certain amount of single-mindedness as well as a certain amount of unpopular decision-making. Fergie is not one to shy away from any of this as players, as we have seen over the years. Just ask David Beckham and Jaap Stam.

Outside of Manchester United, Sir Alex also plays a key role for the League Managers Association, offering advice and help to younger, less experienced managers. A lot of this work will go unnoticed by supporters of other clubs but it could be that Ferguson's advice has helped our very own club managers for which we should be grateful.

Much of the criticism aimed at Ferguson is because of his occasional direct criticism of other managers which has often led to confrontation, such as Arsene Wenger and Kevin Keegan. Nobody can argue that he wins many more arguments than he loses and invariably his team do the talking on the pitch for him.

Perhaps unfairly, Sir Alex is seen as influencing the amount of injury time in matches, benefiting on numerous occasions from this so called 'Fergie time'. Many clubs benefit from injury time goals, but Manchester United always battle until the end of games - it is often perceived that Fergie influences officials in order for his club to succeed.

In my view, in any walk of life, when there are such high-profile and successful individuals, others are bound to be influenced in one way or another, whether intentional or not.

Ferguson is a man to be respected, not admonished. He has achieved unrivalled success in the game and has been responsible for influencing players and future managers to the benefit of our beloved game. There may never be the likes of him again in the footballing world so supporters from all clubs should see the broader picture before criticising. I know I would love to have him as manager of my club, and I am sure I am not alone.

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