Sunday marked 25 years since Sir Alex Ferguson was appointed Manchester United manager. This is perhaps the most significant event in the last quarter of a century; perhaps it is the most significant event ever in football.
The 69-year-old has had unrivalled success in that time, collecting 37 winners medals so far and his achievement ensure he is one of the greatest managers to have graced the game.
The club honoured him before Saturday’s game against Sunderland in the only way they could, by creating the Sir Alex Ferguson stand, the first side of Old Trafford to be named after somebody and by announcing a statue of the great man will be made to confirm his status as a United legend alongside Best, Law, Charlton and Busby.
It is astonishing to think that a man can hold onto a manager’s job in football for 25 years. Dario Gradi managed Crewe for 24 years before quitting and coming back again while Guy Roux managed Auxerre for 44 years, but while their achievements deserve recognition as well, they were not in such an intense, money fuelled environment as Mr Manchester United.
Most managers are now asked for instant success and the managerial merry-go-round sees a lot of comings and goings.
And with the cut-throat nature of the game, it is difficult to see how anybody else will ever reach that milestone.
At the beginning of the 1989/90 season, Ferguson was still awaiting his first trophy as United boss and people were getting nervous about whether he was the man for the job. Having experienced huge success at Aberdeen, winning three SPL titles and the Cup Winners’ Cup he had been expected to fill the trophy cabinet quickly at Old Trafford but that wasn’t the case.
Former chairman Martin Edwards admitted that it was a worrying time at the club and although they kept hold of their man it might not always be the decision.
He said: “We had to patient and wait three to four years for first cup but we knew how hard he was working. We thought it would only be a matter of time before he became successful.
“We were beginning to get under pressure in 1990 because things hadn’t turned around. The pressure today might be even greater and I’d like to think we would be as patient but you never know.”
That is the sort of instant pressure that today’s managers face. Success is needed yesterday and a win can see them lauded while a defeat can put their head on the chopping block. Relationships between the manager and the board go off quicker than a pint of milk, just look at Ancelotti at Chelsea, winning the double in his first season then sacked a year later.
Roberto Mancini’s head has been on the block as well despite steady progression from a European place to the Champions League, a first trophy in 35 years and now the top of the league, yet having finished third last year and being victorious in the FA Cup his job was by no means safe.
And Arsene Wenger was under fire at the start of the season for losing a few games despite having to start again with his team having lost many of his best players. And while people are growing thin of the excuse, the Frenchman has been trying to grow a team that can have long-term success like United, he just isn’t finished yet.
In a world where money is imperative and success brings money there is no time to wait for trophies anymore and that is why nobody will ever replicate Sir Alex Ferguson’s fantastic achievement.
But if somebody were to take that chance rather than jump the gun and fire their boss, could they reap the same rewards as United?
Do you think anybody could copy Fergie? Comment below or follow me @jrobbins1991 and lets talk football.
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