SIR ALEX FERGUSON

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Full Name 
Alexander Chapman Ferguson
Position
Manager
Date of Birth
31st December 1941
Trophies with United
15
Place of Birth
Govan, Glasgow
Started as
United Manager
7th November 1986

Ferguson's total United league
Record (at end of 1999/2000 season)

Played
535
Won
293
Lost
92
Drawn
150
Goals for
942
Goals against
501
Points
1029

Ferguson's total United European
Record (at end of 1999/2000 season)

Played
60
Won
34
Lost
12
Drawn
14
Goals for
116
Goals against
63

Ferguson's total United FA Cup
Record (at end of 1999/2000 season)
Played
58
Won
38
Lost
12
Drawn
8
Goals for
108
Goals against
51

Ferguson's total United Record
(at end of 1999/2000 season)
Played
693
Won
398 (58%)
Lost
117 (17%)
Drawn
178 (25%)
Goals for
1257
Goals against
670
The above total includes The League Cup but not
the Charity Shield or World Club Championship

Sir Alex Ferguson is the man responsible for making Manchester United the team of the 1990s. Ferguson has established himself as the most successful British manager of all-time and in doing so has made Manchester United, a club that could'nt win a League title for 26 years, the best team in the world.In times when managers frequently come and go, Alex Ferguson is the immovable object, no matter what happens Fergie and United are at the top, every season. Honest, fierce, driven, obsessive, charming, humorous, stubborn, aggressive: All these words could describe the second Scottish saviour of Manchester United.

Born in Govan, Glasgow, Alex Ferguson was an apprentice toolworker on the cold hard-working shipyards of the Clyde until he was 23, during which he played for Queens Park, St Johnstone part time.He turned professional and joined Dunfermline in 1964 playing as a centre-forward. Here he attracted the attention of his boyhood idols Glasgow Rangers and was bought for a then record £65,000 in 1967.However his time at Rangers was not really a success and he moved to Falkirk in 1969 and Ayr in 1973.

Eventually he gave up playing in 1974 to become manger of East Stirling were he was quickly spotted by St Mirren, whom he manged for 3 years until 1978.He had done well at St Mirren with limited resources but was surprisingly sacked, Aberdeen soon took advantage of his availability and the Ferguson managerial legend began.

Again with limited resources, he turned the average Aberdeen into a team that dominated Scottish football during the early 1980s and broke the traditional iron stranglehold of the mighty Glasgow "Old Firm" of Rangers and Celtic. Aberdeen were the team to beat in the early 80's and Ferguson capped it all by taking them to a glorious 2-1 victory over mighty Real Madrid in the 1983 European Cup Winners Cup, the last European trophy won by a Scottish team to date.

It was only a matter of time until the big guns came after him. He was approached by no less than Barcelona, Arsenal, Rangers and Tottenham (whom he seriously considered), but destiny in the end meant it could only be.......Manchester United.

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1986-90: Dodgey beginnings

Ferguson's first job was to lift United away from the foot of the table after Ron Atkinson had steered the club to trouble.This he accomplished, but  problems remained, United's reputation as a boozing club was not without foundation and Alex tackled the situation head-on. In addition, he revamped the youth team system, a decision that would repay a hundred fold.He paid minute attention to every detail of club life, first to arrive and last to leave was his attiude. Mark Hughes returned from Barcelona Steve Bruce , Brian McClair , Gary Pallister and Paul Ince arrived but United were adrift of champions Liverpool. Though finishing an admirable second in 1988, 1989 brought dour anti-climax as the reds finished 11th. The side was hard working, methodical,and dull, while Fergie's cautious approach did not win the fans over.There was doubt over whether Fergie had what it took to be a United manager.

Popular performers such as  Whiteside , McGrath and Gordon Strachan departed- but by January 1990 United were struggling at the foot of the table and chants of 'Fergie Out' began to issue from stands and terraces, especially after a 5-1 defeat to Man City. Martin Edwards always denies it, but Fergie's job was on a knife-edge and it all came to a head in the 3rd Round FA Cup game away to Nottingham Forest.If United lost Fergie would have been sacked, no question about it. If the same situation had been in today's high pressure football world Fergie would have gone long before then.However,luckily for United, despite a disallowed Forest goal, Mark Robbins struck the winner and United had a narrow 1-0 win. United went on to win the FA Cup that season, playing every round away from home. Fergie had now some breathing space with the fans and board alike.

 
1990-93: Two cups then the League

He then set about trying to end United's long wait for the League title, however there was time for another European Cup Winners' Cup in 1991 with a great victory over Barcelona and the League Cup in 1992. United began to play with the attacking flair the club was famous for, Ryan Giggs and Peter Schmeichel arrived on the scene, yet Ferguson still could'nt bring the title to Old Trafford. When it finally seemed in their grasp after a successful run in 1992 which saw United at the top of the table in mid-April,a late collapse handed it to rivals Leeds United. Ferguson was criticised and many fans and pundits thought United and Fergie would now never win the League after that dreadful 2-0 Sunday defeat at Anfield.

Once again they underestimated Alex Ferguson's powers and United soon returned to form the start of the next season.The real turning point came in November 1993 with the unplanned arrival of Leeds hero Eric Cantona , whom he signed after a chance inquiry, made when the Leeds chairman telephoned on other business.That chance inquiry would shape English football for 5 glorious years to come.The way the canny Scot capitalised on that good fortune, realising that the brilliant French maverick must be the centre of his team, was inspired. Adopting an approach that, outwardly at least, was more relaxed, he finally secured the prize for which Manchester United had pined so painfully.Surging to the title over nearest rivals Aston Villa, and playing some sublime football along the way, 26 years waiting ended on the 2nd May 1993 and United were the League Champions at last.

 

1993-97: The Double Double

In 1993/94 Fergies red machine was all-conquering,stylish and unbeatable. Future captain Roy Keane arrived at the start of the season from Nottingham Forest for 3.5 million. By late autumn there was talk of an unprecedented domestic treble as United swept all before them and looked head and sholders above the rest. Fergie's seige mentality and public criticism rained over a series of sendings-off and bookings threatened to wreak the entire campaign as the League Cup Final was lost and Blackburn reduced a 16-point lead to goal differnce.Yet, Fergie regained his composure and United regained the League with 10 points to spare and crushed Chelsea 4-0 to win the FA Cup, his first League and FA Cup "Double".

1994/95 was anti-climactic, but did see the arrival of striker Andy Cole for �7 million.The title was conceded by one point and the FA Cup Final by a single goal, though United would almost certainly have won a second Double if Cantona had not been banned for attacking an idiot 'fan' at Selhurst Park.Fergie handled the media storm brilliantly and coaxed Eric to stay at United, showing his man management skills at their best.

The fans outcry surrounding the sales of Hughes, Ince and Andrei Kanchelskis in the summer of 1995 prompted more doubting of Fergusons judgement but he dug in and replaced the departing stars with boys from his youth team "Fergies Fledgelings" of David Beckham , the Neville Brothers , Scholes , Butt and Giggs. After an 3-1 defeat on the opening day of 1995/96 and Alan Hansen's "you'll win nothing with kids" United's glory years looked finished. Eight months later his largely home grown side had overhauled a 14 point Premiership lead by big-spending Keegan's Newcastle with a superb run of victories between January and April inspired by Cantona's brilliance. Then, having won the title, they done the "Double Double" with a 1-0 FA Cup Final victory over Liverpool seven days later.

1997-2000: The Treble and Kings of Europe

Winning the League meant United were back in the European Cup, which was becoming an obsession to Ferguson, like Busby before, to capture the "Holy Grail". 1996/97 brought a fourth Championship in five seasons, comfortably won in the end, but United failed in Europe at the semi-final stage to Borussia Dortmund. Eric Cantona then shocked everyone by retiring and the following season United never adequately replaced him.Eventually after a brilliant first 5 months, injuries meant the team ran out of steam, losing to Monaco in the European Cup while Arsenal's late surge took the title to Highbury.

Determined to succeed, in 1998-99 Ferguson took a risk and spashed out a combined �23 million on Dwight Yorke and Japp Stam . Playing a brilliant attacking, free-scoring style, United swept all before them on the three fronts of League,FA Cup and Europe.Ferguson's United had strength in depth like no other team,with quality like Solskjaer , Sheringham , Berg, Blomqvist sitting on the bench.In the league United took charge after Christmas and set up a thrilling race to the finish with Arsenal close behind.A superb run inthe FA Cup beating great rivals Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal on the way put United in the FA Cup final.In the European Cup Fergie's United, scoring goals everywhere beat Inter Milan and Juventus to reach the final and set up an unprecented "Treble".

United clinched the first part of the treble by winning the League title at Old Trafford on a final,nerve-wrecking day. A week later United beat Newcastle 2-0 in the Cup final to complete an amazing third "Double" in 5 years.Finally the one Ferguson most wanted ,the big one, the European Cup.The final in Barcelona saw United take on Bayern Munich.For most of the game United were 1-0 down,until the 90th minute when one of the greatest,if not the greatest comebacks in sporting history saw them score two goals in injury time to win 2-1.Fergies life-time ambition was achieved, he had done something no British manger had ever done or will likely do again, United were Champions of Europe at last, Champions of England and FA Cup winners all in the one brilliant season. Alex Ferguson soon became Sir Alex Ferguson, recieving a knighthood for his great achievements in the Queens birthday honours list, a thoroughly well deserved reward for his services to British football.

It was always going to be something of an anti-climax the following season after the Treble year.The sheer number of games in the expanded Champions League and the inaugral FIFA World Club Championship meant United could'nt defend the FA Cup.United had become the first British club to win the Intercontinental Cup winning 1-0 against Palmeiras in Tokyo but in the In the controversial Brazillian tournament United failed to get to the final. In Europe Real Madrid ended United's hold on the European Cup with a 3-2 defeat in the Quarter Finals however the new millenium saw United sweep away all domestic opposition to claim Ferguson's sixth Premier League title in a record breaking season. Scoring 97 goals and winning by a record margin of 18 points, no-one in England could touch United as they played brilliant attacking football and scored goals by the truck load in Ferguson's most emphatic championship win yet. Fergie himself won the Carling Manager of the Year award, the fifth time he has won the honour in the eight years of the Premiership.



Why is Fergie so succsessful?

It is hard to know exactly why Ferguson has been so successful, but conclusions can be drawn from various aspects of his personality.


 
Personnal Drive

Firstly, Alex Ferguson hates losing, he is possessed with an almost obsessive desire to win.The bitter taste of defeat only fuels him to endeavor all the more to avoid it in future.Some say he is a bad loser,ingracious in defeat ,but they don't realise that this is why he he such a great manager.It shows how much he wants to win, he always expects to win.Whenever he has achieved a success he never rests, always looking to the future for once the moment of victory has gone you can't go experience it again, you must do it all again to get back on that victory high.It is this drive and hunger for success that keeps him at the top, and Ferguson acknowlegdes that one day it will fade but he'll be long retired by then.

 
Tactics/Stategy

Ferguson is a manager who while tactically brilliant is not afraid to follow his instincts or take a gamble.His instincts wether it be luck or some sort of intuition always seem to be right. He seems to recognise that if you want to win things then you need to take a chance, sometimes an unexpected risk can swing things in your favour by off-throwing opponents.He took risks buying Eric Cantona and Dwight Yorke,he often dangerously manipulates his squad by resting key players. He dismantled the Double winning side of 94, replacing them with mostly youth players.Alan Hansen famously said "You'll never win anything with kids" - how he was made to eat those words.Many a time people have said "Fergie's lost his mind" and yet he's proved them wrong time and time again, showing his deeper insight and knowledge about football than the rest of us.

In both his upbringing and in the shipyards of the Clyde, Ferguson was exposed to the Scottish Protestant work ethic of hard graft and toil.He has instilled that same hard work ethic into Manchester United.All members of his team have a high work rate,even the Beckham's and Giggs' are made to earn their money by backtracking to help out the defence,constantly moving and slogging it out for 90 minutes.No team works harder than Fergie's United.

Fergie is one of the best tactical minds in the game.He has constructed a United team that is very adaptable to all situations with his favorite 4-4-2 formation.United were the first English team in the 90s to use the lightning counter-attack as a deliberate tactic, which Arsenal later copied.His best United teams have been built on a solid defence, wingers on the flanks and some sort of creative genius up front.When United first played in the Champions League, Ferguson was having to learn tactically how to play against European teams.In 1999, after four failed attempts he got it right.In the end he always gets it right.

 
Player management/Psychology

Alex Ferguson is the greatest motivator in football.Player motivation is a finely balanced art. Too much of it every day and eventually and it can have no effect, or the constant pressure of it can destroy players.Ferguson believes in using it every so often at the optimum moments, when it has its most power.His famous words of motivation during half-time in the European Cup Final 1999 with United 1-0 down: "At the end of this game, the European Cup will be only three feet away from you and you'll not even able to touch it if we lose". He undoubtedly honed his man-management skills in his early pre-football management days as a shipyard shop steward.

He will always get the best out of his players and demand 100%. His handling of United's young stars has also been first class, protecting the likes of Giggs from frenzied media attention. In both the Cantona "kung-fu kick" incident and Beckham's 1998 World Cup ordeal, he stuck by his players and supported them through the difficult times,which in the end they repaid him with great comeback performances. Alex Ferguson will never attack his players in public or in the media, if they have underperformed or done something stupid, he will leave his criticism to behind closed doors. Fergie has also perfected the "seige mentality" at both Aberdeen and United, telling his team the whole world is against them and hates them. Its up to them to prove all the United haters wrong and prove they are the best.Fergie is the master of mind games, loving to wind up opposing managers with subtle attacks and deception.Some like Wenger can cope, others like Keegan and Dalglish, could'nt.

 

Buying/bargins

In Ferguson's working class background there was economic hardship, extravagant wasteful spending was avoided,and you can see this in Fergie,even though United have a large transfer budget he will often be reluctant to spend it unless its absolutely neccessary. His most successful bargin buys must be: Cantona,Schmeichel,Solskjaer,Johnsen, Irwin,Sharpe and Kanchelskis. When he does spend big money he has always bought wisely with players like Pallister, Keane,Cole, Yorke and Stam.Perhaps it is no coincidence that he is the master of the bargin buy and United's two greats of the 90's Cantona and Schmeichel cost less than £2 million between them.

 
Conclusion

There can be no doubt that Sir Alex Ferguson is a managerial genius, a one man success machine who is a born winner.No matter what this man had done in life, he'd have been a winner.In modern football with its coaches and technical directors, he is the last in a long line of the great managers like Busby, Shankly ,Stein ,Clough,Paisley, Revie. Great personalities who ruled the club and everydody knew it and they always got what they wanted. Modern manager are slaves to the money men, technocrats who do what they are told.Not Fergie, he is the man at the helm of Old Trafford, the man that coordinates this huge red machine.His personnal influence based on his record and personality means he always gets his way.Martin Edwards may talk of how good financial planning has made United the richest club in the world, but everybody knows that without Ferguson's six League titles, four FA Cups and the European Cup, United would'nt even be half as rich as they are now.

Sir Fergie has said he will retire in 2 years from now, 2002.When he does who can possibly follow in his footsteps? The club's foundations are too strong for United to go the way of post Busby years and the relegation of 1974, however any future manger will be living in Ferguson's garguantuan shadow with the fans huge expectations like a mountain on his shoulders.Still, we have two more years of the great Fergie era to go - enjoy it while you can because its like may never come again.The man who arrived in 1986 looking up to Sir Matt Busby, today in 2000 has eclipsed even his mighty achievements.When history looks back in 25 years time, Sir Alex Ferguson will be regarded as the greatest ever manager of Manchester United. Up there with the all-time immortals of the game, there will never be another manager like him, that there can be absolutely no doubt.



 
Management Honours
 
1980 Scottish Premier League- Winner
1982 Scottish League Cup- Winner
1982 Scottish FA Cup- Winner
1983 Scottish FA Cup- Winner
1983 European Cup Winners Cup- Winner
1984 Scottish FA Cup- Winner
1984 Scottish Premier League- Winner
1985 Scottish Premier League- Winner
1986 Scottish FA Cup- Winner
1990 F.A. Cup - Winner
1991 European Cup Winners Cup - Winner
1991 European Super Cup - Winner
1992 League Cup - Winner
1993 F.A. Premier League - Winner
1994 F.A. Premier League - Winner
1994 F.A. Cup - Winner
1996 F.A. Premier League - Winner
1996 F.A. Cup - Winner
1997 F.A. Premier League - Winner
1999 F.A. Premier League - Winner
 
1999 F.A. Cup - Winner
 
 
1999 European Champions League - Winner
 
 
1999 Intercontinental Cup - Winner
 
 
2000 F.A. Premier League - Winner


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