26 Years of Sir Alex -- A Fan's Tribute

It's been 26 years since Sir Alex Ferguson took over at Manchester United and few people could have predicted what was to become the most illustrious career of any football manager ever.  Matthew Carolan writes this tribute about the greatest manager in football history.

Fergie came to United in 1986, at a time when Liverpool dominated in Europe and domestically, too.  They had 18 titles and United, as one of their biggest rivals, were condemned to chants and jeers from their scouse neighbours.  Until 1990, Fergie didn't come across as the man to challenge Liverpool, then he won his first of many trophies, the FA Cup.

The rest, as they say is history.  Manchester United are a club run by their manager and not by the people upstairs.  'The Boss' is both respected and feared (in a healthy way) across Europe and up and down England, too.

His first European successes came in 1991 with the Cup Winners' Cup and the Champions League in 1999, when United memorably defeated Bayern Munich in the last minute, thanks to a toe poke from Olé Gunnar Solskjaer.  It took nine more years to repeat this triumph when the Reds beat Chelsea in Moscow on penalties in 2008.  Finally, after years of playing catch up with Liverpool's trophies, United lifted their 19th domestic title in 2011, and that's a fact!

It's not just the trophies that count, though.  Ferguson has become more than a manager to some players at United.  Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo, Eric Cantona, Paul Scholes and many more players have gone on record as seeing the boss as a father figure in many ways.

After all, he has seen many players transition from the youth team to become some of the country's best players.


No matter how many times I try to predict what the outcome may be on a Saturday afternoon or a midweek night, one thing is for sure, I may not predict the right result but i will always be entertained.  There have been so many memorable matches.  So many incidents.  So many headlines and so much controversy over the years.

I remember the first match I went to.  United 2-0 Stuttgart in 2003.  Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Ruud van Nistelrooy were at their peak and when I walked out at the west stand to see these names appear on the team sheet, the vivid imagery stuck and it's a moment ill never forget.

The match build up is surreal.  Even though Manchester is freezing most of the time, you feel warm and excited sitting there surrounded by thousands of other fans.  The smell of Pukka Pies and beer fills the air and on European nights, the additional warmth is more than welcome.  For many fans, it's their first match and for others, it's a weekly occurrence.

Whichever way you look at it, the whole build up seems so routine, from the moment 'This Is The One' by The Stone Roses plays out, until the moment the boss finally takes his seat in his long black coat.  Some people say that there's no value for tickets but I'd happily pay my wage to sit in Old Trafford as often as I can.

A lot of people say that United fans are glory hunters.  Generally, Liverpool fans born in the 80's.  I started watching football in general because of United.  I remember every Saturday night my dad would watch Match Of The Day to see United and I'd happily stay up late to watch Cantona and Giggs week in, week out.  I would always hear tales of other United legends - The Busby Babes, George Best and the win over Benfica in 1968.  Even with all the history and silverwear at Old Trafford before the Ferguson era, I think I've been lucky to witness this regime instead of the past.

As I said, there have been so many iconic moments and big results for Fergie over the years.  The David Beckham halfway line goal.  Rooney's debut hat-trick.  Giggsy's winner against Arsenal in 1999.  Cantona's winner against Liverpool in 1996.  Even when a result doesn't go his way, no real fan will question Fergie because we trust him.


Last season, United lost 6-1 to City and went on to lose the title on goal difference.  Ferguson claimed that it would never happen again and with ten league games gone and United on top already, I believe he might be right.

Fittingly, a statue is to be erected in honour of Sir Alex's achievements at the club in the next few weeks.  After picking up a crucial win against Arsenal on Saturday, United went top for the first time this season and Fergie bagged the 'Manager of the Month' award, too.  So, from all of us here at College Times, congratulations Sir Alex on an incredible 26 years and long may it continue.


Fergie's Top 5 Defining Moments with United!

- Winning the 1990 FA Cup, when he was allegedly under threat of losing his job had he lost it.  It just goes to show you what happens when a chairman sticks with his man.  The rest as they, is history.

- Winning his first Premier League title, and United's first in 26 years to start an unprecedented era of domestic dominance.

- Winning an incredible Treble in 1999 consisting of the Premiership, FA Cup and then THAT Champions League final against Bayern Munich in Barcelona.  A knight of the realm was made.  Football, bloody hell..

- Winning back the Premier League title in 2007 after four years without.  This was significant as it looked for long like José Mourinho's Chelsea, after winning back-to-back titles, would become the new megapower in English football.  United put a stop to that, going one better and winning three titles in a row from 2007-2009.

- Winning his second Champions League title in Moscow against Chelsea.  This cemented his legacy in European football folklore as not just a domestic great but one who could win multiple European trophies with different teams spanning multiple decades.

Matt Carolan
Article written by
The hardest graft I've ever done is doing me hair

You may also like

Facebook messenger