Sir Alex Ferguson is the manager of Manchester United in the English Premier League. He has been with the club for 20 years, guiding them to be the dominant force in English football, and contenders year-on-year in the European Champions League. Sir Alex was knighted after a historic and unprecedented treble-winning season, and is one of the greatest managers of all time.
Sir Alex Ferguson was born on 31st December 1941 in Govan, a poor district of Glasgow. His father was in the ship-building industry, whilst his mother stayed at home and looked after him and his younger brother Martin (who is now a Manchester United scout). Sir Alex learnt the harsh lessons of life in his early days. He became a footballer at 16, playing with some flair for Queens Park, Dunfermline, St Johnstone and the club he supported as a boy – Glasgow Rangers. He was an able striker, but acknowledges himself that he has become an even better manager.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s managerial career began with a player-manager stint at Falkirk, which is where he picked up the managerial bug. His first role as the team manager came at East Stirlingshire, where his disciplinarian approach won him few friends, but many league points. His work was so impressive that he was asked to take over at bigger St Mirren, whom he led from the 2nd division to the very top of the 1st. Trouble came at St Mirren when Sir Alex held ‘secret talks’ with Aberdeen, and was sacked for breaching his contract, though Sir Alex refuted this then, and still does now.
Nonetheless, Ferguson became manager of Aberdeen the season after, and led the sleeping giant to the top of the table, and won the European Cup Winners Cup. Aberdeen won the league for another few years, before Sir Alex saw that he had taken them as far as he could, and told them he wanted to leave for pastures new.
Sir Alex Ferguson joined Manchester United on 6th November 1986, aged 45. United were suffering in the league, and were in a crisis of confidence. It took Sir Alex some time to turn things around – three seasons of mediocrity followed whilst Ferguson tried to deal with the drinking culture at the club, and the lack of a youth-team structure.
With some big money spent on players such as Mark Hughes, Steve Bruce and Neil Webb, the fans were expecting great things, but United were still struggling to challenge for the title. After losing seven games in a row, United were down and out in the league, and all hopes were on the FA Cup away at Nottingham in November 1989. Ferguson was widely expected to lose his job if United failed to win, but thankfully the reds came through for him – winning 1-0, and then marching on a cup run to the final, where they beat Crystal Palace in the replay to bring silverware to Old Trafford.
With a new found confidence from both players and fans, Ferguson got to work with trying to ‘knock Liverpool from their perch’. Liverpool were definitely a fading force, and it was Leeds, led by a mercurial Eric Cantona, that pipped United to the first ever Premier League title. United stuttered at the start of the next season, but managed to buy Cantona from Leeds for £1.2m in December, and he became the catalyst to helping United top the league.
Sir Alex has won 10 Premier League titles, 2 champions league titles, 5 FA Cups and 2 league cups in his time at United, in the process building some great teams, such as the Robson-Hughes-Ince era, the ‘Class of 92’ with Beckham, Butt, Keane, Scholes and Neville, and the current crop of multinationals like Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez.
Sir Alex will retire from football once he has finished from football, but insists that’s a few years off yet!
Ferguson was a member of the back-room staff in Scotland’s 1986 World Cup qualifying campaign. Jock Stein’s ill health led to Sir Alex being installed as manager, leading Scotland out in Mexico at the Finals. Scotland lost to Denmark and West Germany, but managed a draw against Uruguay to come home with some pride in tact. Ferguson is at his best when working with players on a daily-basis, as it works in club-football.