So the men from the wrong side of the M62 have reached their fourth European Cup Final under Mr Ferguson and we wish them the best of luck with the same level of sincerity that we use when discussing how good looking the Neville brothers are. Through gritted teeth I must admit that a third European Cup final in four years is a remarkable achievement but to compare Fergie’s European success to Bob Paisley ’s is quite frankly a joke.
Should United manage to somehow stop the seemingly unstoppable Barcelona to claim their fourth European Cup then Mr Ferguson would have achieved something he’s been dreaming about for decades and that is equalling the number of European success achieved by the late, great former Liverpool Manger Bob Paisley. Equal in trophies yes but the true measure of each manager’s success can surely only be determined when taking the number of years it took for each to achieve such an accolade. And of course when we do this we see there is no comparison and Bob Paisley will always stand alone looking down as others make a feeble attempt to better his record.
Bob Paisley will go down as one of the all time great managers not just for his European success but also for the honours he led the Reds to on the domestic front. The nine years Paisley was at the club the Kop had nineteen honours to celebrate with five of them coming from European competitions. Staggering, especially considering the only method of playing in the Europe was by finishing in the top two in the league. Finishing second meant UEFA Cup football and finishing first meant you joined Europe’s elite teams in the European Cup. Seeing as Paisley left in 1983 following another English title success the Geordie only had five seasons managing in Europe’s premier club competition winning three of them. Again, staggering!
Ferguson to his credit has had phenomenal success at Manchester United. He has taken a club that was battling relegation when he took over in 1986 and transforming them into one of the biggest clubs in the world having won 35 honours during his 25 years at the club. But as Fergie himself admits, his lack of European success is somewhat of a blotch on his CV and he had become desperate to try and somewhat emulate the achievement set by Paisley. Ferguson’s Manchester United have been in the Champions League every year since 1993. That has afforded Alex Ferguson 18 attempts to win the coveted European Cup which he has won twice although he has another chance to add to his total as his United side will face Barcelona in the final on the 28th of May.
Even if Manchester United wins the Champions League again in Wembley in three weeks time, Ferguson will equal Paisley only in one aspect. The true achievement will belong to Paisley whose success in Europe will never be beaten, at least not by Mr Ferguson anyway!
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