Undoubtedly one of the greatest managers of all time, Sir Alex Ferguson, has finally bowed out of football management after winning his 13th Premier League title with Manchester United.
Millions of people watched around the world as the manager took the field one last time at the Hawthorns against West Brom on Sunday afternoon.
It’s hard to manage a top club, let alone an out-of-form top club. Such were the conditions at Manchester United when Ferguson took over from Ron Atkinson on November 6 1986.
His first three seasons were aimed at rebuilding the club’s reputation but instead they turned out to be miserable. Ferguson later described December 1989 as "the darkest period [he had] ever suffered in the game", as United ended the decade just outside the relegation zone.
Even when the fans sought his dismissal, Ferguson just did not give up. He kept working towards his goal. However, the next season certainly did not live up to his expectations. After a poor start to the 1992/93 campaign, United looked nothing like champions. Enter Eric Cantona, the future of Manchester United. The prolific Frenchman helped Ferguson secure the first league title for United in 26 years.
The Scot was also voted as the Manager of the Year by the League Manager’s Association for this achievement.
Having worked with a number of world-class players such as Bryan Robson, Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Steve Bruce, Ferguson racked up title after title, win after win.
In the years to come, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would help Manchester United secure their first treble in perhaps what was one of the best matches of all time.
By 2002, United had won multiple titles and Ferguson was on the verge of retirement. But much to the excitement of the fans, he carried on. Ruud van Nistelrooy, Fabien Barthez and Juan Sebastian Veron were also brought to Old Trafford. The Glazers took over not long after.
Rebuilding followed with the introduction of Cristiano Ronaldo, Louis Saha, Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick, Patrice Evra and Edwin van der Sar. The future was in place. Success would follow with more cups and titles.
By 2008, the Champions League title would return to United with a victory over rivals Chelsea. From then on, Manchester United have proved to be the most consistent team ever. The 2011/12 season meant United overtook Liverpool’s record of 18 league titles.
Sir Alex Ferguson was a man of utmost confidence and never played for a draw. When most football managers would see no way out of a game and give up, this great man told his players that they weren’t far behind.
No wonder injury-time would often be referred to as “Fergie-time”. But in defeat, he’d often say: “Sometimes in football you have to hold your hand up and say, yeah, they're better than us.”
Hats-off to his everlasting confidence, belief and humility.
To a man of such resolve, spirit and diligence, we bid farewell. The world will truly miss the best football manager ever.
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