Today, a sporting interlude. Alex Ferguson announced his retirement today. Twenty six years in the top job at a top club. That’s a career length pretty much unheard of in any era, any sport. Unlikely to be repeated. There’s an awful lot to admire about the guy. His dealings in the transfer market? No, not really. He was pretty average. Wenger rules that roost. How about as a tactician? Accomplished, but not the best. Mourinho has his number there.
But as team builder and motivator, he’s one of the finest. No doubts. He’s had some great players come and go under him. But he’s had a few fairly average (for the top echelons of the Premier League) teams as well, and gotten a lot more out of the team than the sum of the parts would suggest is possible. His ability to nurture talent and get the most out of it is second to none.
There’s a lot to dislike about him too. His manner can be brusque. To say the least. His ability to throw a childish tantrum and bear a grudge is lamentable. Most of all though, I resent what he did to the national team. He created and fostered the practice of withholding players from international games, under the pretense of injury. Other managers joined in, but it was something Ferguson started. The harm done to our national team was immeasurable. We had a genuine golden generation from 1996 to 2006. There was a trophy to be won. And we failed. Not least, because England fielded their finest eleven for a full ninety minutes so rarely.
He’s won 38 trophies in those 26 years though. So maybe some of those negatives are forgivable. Personally, I’m glad he’s gone. Delighted. Overjoyed. I’m a Liverpool fan. My glee at seeing him depart is, perhaps, the biggest compliment. His replacement will probably be David Moyes. I’m equally delighted. He’s done wonders at a small club. But is he a big club man? I don’t think he is. I’ll explain. When does the Alex Ferguson story start? Man Utd fans will often tell you 1986.
Actually it was before then. Fergie managed a small club, just like Moyes has. But Fergie won things. Titles and a European trophy. Man Utd bought in a winner. Moyes, despite ‘working wonders’, has won nowt. Ever. Some people just are winners. Other aren’t. Moyes, probably, isn’t. We’ll find out in the years to come. Incidentally, Ferguson should probably have quit a couple of years ago, when he won his second European Cup. Only two European Cups, though. As a Liverpool fan, that also delights me, and in true form I’ll depart this post by falling back in traditional Scouse fashion. Ferguson was good, but he wasn’t ‘three European Cups’ good. He wasn’t ‘Bob Paisley’ good.