Star Profile, Alex Ferguson - The world's greatest coach?
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Alex Ferguson was born in Govan, Scotland on the last day of 1941 and since then has become one of the greatest football managers of all time.
He started his playing career at the age of 16 when he joined local team Queen's Park, he went onto score 20 goals in 31 games for the side but never really held down a first team place. He moved onto St. Johnstone but again struggled to cement a place and only stayed for four years. His most succesful time was at Dunfermline Athletic when he managed a healthy 66 goals in 88 appearances which led to a call from Scottish giants Rangers.
Ferguson is a life-long Rangers fan and was at the club for 2 years but his time there was a disaster as he was made a scapegoat for a loss in a domestic cup final. He moved on to Falkirk and then Ayr United before deciding to take up a managerial career.
Sir Alex Ferguson is the most successful manager in British football history - winning 18 major trophies during his time in charge of the Reds. Yet despite almost two decades at the Old Trafford helm he remains focused on increasing that tally, bringing yet more silverware to Manchester United.
The Reds boss enjoyed a playing career north of the border that saw him take in spells with Queen's Park, St Johnstone, Dunfermline, Glasgow Rangers, Falkirk and Ayr United. But it is not for his playing of the game that Sir Alex was to become a success.
Following a spell out of the game he moved into coaching, taking up the role of manager of East Stirlingshire, St Mirren then Aberdeen. It was his time at Pittodrie where he earned his reputation as a top coach. He broke the Glasgow dominance of Scottish football to lead Aberdeen to three Scottish titles, four Scottish cups, one League Cup and one European Cup Winners' Cup.
Following the sacking of Ron Atkinson as manager of Manchester United, the Old Trafford hierarchy moved quickly for his services. They got their man on 6 November 1986.
Ferguson inherited a dispirited team of underachievers who had consistently, to their supporters'discontent, failed to break Liverpool's domination. Stuck in the bottom four of the Division One table, Ferguson immediately set about attempting to stave off the very real threat of relegation. Without resorting to the transfer market, he guided United up the table to and eleventh place finish.
By now it was clear to Ferguson that he faced a major job in turning the club around. United were an entertaining side but one that seemed unable to cope with the more physical aspects of League football. In his second season the Reds fared better finishing second behind Liverpool, but the position painted a false picture. The turning point came in the 1989/90 season.
Following a run of games in which the Reds were drawn away in every round, United picked up their first silverware of the Ferguson era. Lee Martin scoring the only goal in a final replay against Crystal Palace to in the FA Cup.
This first trophy opened the flood gates. The European Cup Winners' Cup was won the following season in Rotterdam, Barcelona defeated 2-1 thanks to a brace from Mark Hughes. Then in 1991/02 the League Cup was added to United's list of honours.
Sadly the title remained elusive. It was the Holy Grail to United fans, the 26 championships free years being exacerbated by Liverpool's dominance of the domestic and European game.
In 1992/93 the long wait for the League championship came to an end. The Reds, inspired by £1m signing Eric Cantona, pipping Aston Villa in the final weeks of the season.
The shackles were broken: the double followed in 1993/94, the double-Double (with 'kids') in 1995/96, and another title in 1997. Finally United were matching off-field might with on-field success. Liverpool's dominance was well and truly over.
Sir Alex's greatest achievement came in 1998/99. No side before or since has achieved a treble haul of Premiership title, FA Cup and European Cup. On an unforgettable night in Barcelona his decision to throw on substitutes Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer assured history was made. The pair scoring injury-time goals to win the Champions League and complete the treble.
Ferguson was knighted following that success and some suggested he should retire, believing his desire would wane following the realisation of a dream. Not a bit of it. Another title followed in 1999/2000 and he made it three-in-row in 2000/01. His eighth Premiership duly arrived in 2002/03; his fourth FA Cup a year later came against Millwall in Cardiff.
The Reds had by now entered a period of rebuilding. The side of homegrown players he'd first put together in 1995/96 was now breaking up and he'd recruited new stars like Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, brought in to spark a new era of success.
The rebuilding paid off with victory in the Carling Cup in 2005/06 and a ninth Premiership trophy in 2006/07. And the success looks set to continue, with Sir Alex swooping for three players - FC Porto's Anderson, Sporting Lisbon's Nani and
Bayern Munich's Owen Hargreaves - in May 2007 to bolster an already strong side.
With the Premiership back at Old Trafford, the attention now will turn to Europe where Sir Alex hopes to win his second Champions League trophy in 2007/08.