Saturday, November 04, 2006

20 years in charge for Sir Alex

When Alex Ferguson arrived at Manchester United in November 1986, Margaret Thatcher was still the British Prime Minister, Mikhail Gorbachev the leader of the Soviet Union and Wayne Rooney had not even learned how to walk.

Twenty years on, the Scot has become a knight, United are one of the richest clubs in the world and the trophy cabinet is stacked full.

Ferguson will no doubt celebrate the twentieth anniversary of his arrival at Old Trafford on Monday night with a glass of red, but even as his 65th birthday approaches, he shows no sign of slowing down.

Gary Neville, one of Ferguson's trusted stalwarts over the past decade, believes his manager can continue for another 10 years and with no immediate plans to retire and with the full support of his club, Ferguson's future would seem to be in his own hands.

Having broken the stranglehold of Celtic and Rangers in Scotland in his time as Aberdeen manager, which also included a European Cup Winners' Cup title in 1983, Ferguson replaced Ron Atkinson at United on November 6, 1986, with the club in all sorts of trouble.

It seems hard to believe now, but in January of 1990, after stabilising the club, United were again bottom of the table and Ferguson was staring the sack in the face.

If it hadn't have been for Mark Robins' goal in the third round of the FA Cup which saw off Nottingham Forest, Ferguson would have been fired. As it was, United won the FA Cup that year to give Ferguson his first trophy and suddenly the board and the fans were believers.

Always a strong disciplinarian, Ferguson dished out plenty of stick to his players and to opposing managers alike. Never one to suffer fools gladly, Ferguson rid United of their image as a drinking club and turned them into winners.

Along the way, of course, the United manager has been the subject of fierce debate. His players have related the 'Ferguson%


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