Sir Alex Ferguson. The name has become synonymous with Manchester United. The Scotsman, in his 26-year reign at Old Trafford, created a legacy that`ll be hard to emulate. After taking charge of the club in 1986 Ferguson steadily transformed the fortunes of a club that was languishing at the bottom-half of the first division after he was signed to replace Ron Atinkson. The start to his career wasn`t all that inspiring as United suffered a 0-2 defeat to Oxford United in his first game. Still, by the end of the season, under his guidance, United finished 11th. It was a beginning of something special even though the performance of the club in his initial years led to demands of him being sacked.
It was not before 1990 that Ferguson collected his first piece of silverware when United defeated Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final. However, before the glory, Fergie underwent the darkest period he ever faced in his career. Even after his big signings, the 1989-90 season saw United being pounded 5-1 by arch-rivals Manchester City and the club endured a stretch of eight games without a win. However, Manchester United steadily progressed to the top of the Premier League table and finally with the arrival of Eric Cantona in 1992, the club won its first title in 25 years.
Ferguson went on to add 12 more Premiere League titles to his kitty before finally calling time on his managerial career.
An outspoken personality, Ferguson was always in the limelight. He spoke his mind, never shied away from passing comments on rival managers or match officials or even his own players, which led to many controversies. However, it was his image of being a no-nonsense guy that earned him respect from admirers and critics alike. He never stopped from giving his players a piece of his mind. Ask David Beckham. While administering his famous “hairdryer treatment”, Fergie allegedly threw a boot that hit Beckham on the face. In other words, Ferguson was like the headmaster of a school whose mere presence was enough to send a chill down your spine. He would point out your flaws, encourage you to overcome them and develop a fatherly relationship. But if you`ve committed a major mistake, then facing him in the dressing room was certainly a nightmare for his players. It was this approach that instilled respect and developed fear. A lot of them were inspired to perform just to avoid being at the receiving end of his rage. It is no surprise that only Ferguson could deal with a player possessing the temperament of Eric Cantona.
In an era where the managers were sacked at the drop of a hat for failure to land trophies, Ferguson held his fort remarkably which again was a direct result of his illustrious and glittering career. His hard-nosed approach to the game – from every angle possible- divided the football world. Even journalists did not escape his wrath, the most famous example being his refusal to give an interview to BBC for a period of seven years. In fact, it is said that his aggressiveness led to match officials awarding decisions in favour of Manchester United.
His sudden decision to retire created a flutter in the world of football. It took some time before anyone could come to terms with the fact that the current season will be Alex Ferguson`s last as a football manager. Such was the impact of his longevity that it was being said that Ferguson will go on forever. Alas, as is said, all good things come to an end. So has been the case with the 71-year-old.
From next season another Scotsman David Moyes will be instructing the Reds from the touchline. However, fans will miss an animated Ferguson scowling at a refereeing decision made against his club or holding his head between his hands after a shot missed the net by the closest of margins. In the coming years, football will see managers creating legacies of their own but never will the game see another Sir Alex Ferguson.