Current England captain, Wayne Rooney, has described Sir Alex Ferguson as the greatest football manager of all time. In the current era of “merry-go-round” football management Ferguson’s record bears close scrutiny. He is the first football manager to be inducted into Dorksport’s Hall of Fame.
Sir Alexander Chapman “Alex” Ferguson was born on 31 December 1941. He played as an amateur striker for Queens Park and St Johnstone. Having performed with credit for these clubs he became a full-time professional footballer with Dunfermline in 1964. His 31 league goals in the 1965-66 season saw him as joint top scorer in the Scottish League. This earned him a record £65,000 transfer to Rangers. Ferguson earned some managerial experience as player coach at Falkirk before ending his playing career at Ayr United. Crucially he showed that he could walk the walk. This would stand him in good stead during his managerial career.
Early Managerial Career
Alex Ferguson’s management career began at East Stirlingshire. He was a strict disciplinarian and a supreme hard-worker as confirmed by forward Bobby McCulley. McCulley decribed how Ferguson would join in five-a-side matches during training. “He was ferocious, elbowing and kicking”. He then managed St Mirren from 1974 until 1978. Remarkably, they became First Division Champions in 1977. The side had an average age of only 19 and played stylish attacking football. This talent for working with youngsters was to re-emerge in his golden years with Manchester United.
Alex Ferguson’s skills were now in demand. He next spent a full eight years as manager of Aberdeen. In that time he won three Scottish League Championships, four Scottish Cups and the 1983 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. His reputation as a disciplinarian remained, earning the nickname of Furious Fergie amongst his players. Alex McCleish, a former Aberdeen defender explained his secret. “He just gave players so much belief” and “his enormous mental strength is unquestionable.” Ferguson briefly became Scotland manager following the death of Jock Stein in 1985 taking Scotland to the 1986 World Cup finals. His success with Aberdeen attracted English clubs. He considered the Manager’s job at Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal before replacing Ron Atkinson as Manchester United Manager in 1986.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s achievements at Manchester United are legendary. He won an incredible 38 trophies. This included thirteen Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two UEFA Champions League titles. His management of strong characters such as Roy Keane and Eric Cantona was key to his continued success. In 1995-1996 Ferguson relied heavily on youth team players. These included David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Gary and Phil Neville and Nicky Butt. After an opening day defeat TV pundit Alan Hansen famously said “You can’t win anything with kids”. These words would haunt him as Fergie’s Fledglings won the league title. The kids formed the spine of the team for years to come. He flirted with retirement and Chelsea established a stranglehold on the Premier League. However, this inspired Ferguson as he guided Manchester United to three consecutive titles between 2007 and 2009. He retired as a winner, landing the 2012-2013 Premier League.
Arise Sir Alex FergusonAlex Ferguson was awarded the OBE in 1983 and the CBE in 1995. In 1999 he received a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. He is the longest serving Manager of Manchester United. The North Stand at Old Trafford was re-named The Sir Alex Ferguson Stand in recognition of his 25 years in charge. Ferguson still acts as Senior Ambassador for Manchester United. He has won 49 trophies which makes him the greatest British Manager of all time.
When people talk about modern-day managers it is my own belief that he is the greatest in the game. I have the utmost admiration for him and I speak for every manager in European football. – Martin O’Neill