Prior Warning : This is no way an unbiased article. Anybody reading this expecting it to be neutrally written can doubtlessly find the option to navigate elsewhere in a variety of buttons like back, close, home or whatever (Honestly, i don’t care). As I was saying, its written with crystal clear bias, devotion and much fanaticism towards the Manchester United football club, and Sir Alex Ferguson. There might be many statements in this article that might be open to many conflicts of opinion. But nevertheless, its what I’ve believed, along with billion others.
This is not just a thank you note. Nor a remembrance. Neither is it an argument against anybody with another opinion.
I don’t remember the 1st Manchester United match I saw. All that I remember is the now familiar image of the fat pink faced man chewing gum and pacing on the sidelines. In time the way I’ve seen him has changed. As a budding fan and a kid, I knew him as manager, who I then thought meant he owned the club. Then later on I found out the owners were separate and that he is just the manager of the club, which I then thought meant he coached the team. Then with wisdom came the epiphany that he’s the man behind the curtains. Coaching the team, managing the players, finances, deciding who to buy and who to sell, developing the club as a whole.
Now a decade after I first saw that pink face, Now that I’ve seen that man retire at 71, after achieving everything humanly possible, I know better than that. Sir Alex is not just the manager. That anybody can be. But he’s more than that. Saying he’s the manager of MUFC is putting it so plainly that its a disgrace to his relation to the club.
The blood rushing to his face as he paces the sidelines, the same blood running through his veins as he chewed on the gum every moment with more energy, Its not blood, Its Manchester United. It runs in his veins, as much as he’s the beating heart of Manchester United Football Club.
(*Correction : Has been for 26 years :”( )
Sir Alex Ferguson needs no introductions, Nor listings of his achievement. Its well documented and heralded. A legendary 13 top division titles. 2 European titles, and countless other trophies totaling to 38 in 26 years. None alive or dead has done it better, or in all probability will never do it better.
But the greatness of Sir Alex Ferguson can never be documented on paper. His Midas touch evident in every single player bought that has payed back his dues by becoming a Star, in every single deal signed with a sponsor making the club the most valuable during his time, until eclipsed finally after decades by a Big spending Real Madrid. Even then, they managed it only after years and years of poaching stars that SAF himself brought to Old Trafford as boys with a football flair, and himself carefully grew to be the finest in the world. And even then, after making cracks upon cracks on the squads that Sir Alex built, the blind fact that in last 10 years, United have had more success in Europe than Real Madrid only shows the genius that this man possesses. No challenger has stood long in front of Sir Alex, and not felt his knees give away. Arsene build his invincibles at Highbury, yet they withered away leaving the Govan born Scot’s Red Devils with no challenge. Then came Mourinho’s Chelsea. For all the legendary title wins of the two seasons, happiness for the Blues could not last long though. By 2006, Ferguson had crafted another title winning squad. And yet again he found the rest of England wanting.
The only adversary that Sir Alex has marginally been unsuccessful against is Guardiola. 9/11 holds a bitter memory for all United fans for a different reason. Guardiolas Barcelona, and his Tiki Taka. European disappointment twice, and against the same team. Not something Ferguson has been used to, nor us fans, seeing he has never gone trophy-less in consecutive seasons in the PL era. Yet domestically, his genius was miles away. With time, Guardiola also grew tired. He had to take a year off to recharge, with 2012 finding his Barcelona fall from grace.
Then came Mancini and the oil-flushed Manchester City. One season is all they’ve lasted against the Old man. All the noise that the neighbors managed and the critics claiming Manchester United is never gonna dominate Manchester again, have all been silenced. The Wily Scot has again found the rest of the world wanting, at 71 years of age. 13 titles in 26 years is not a feat any manager can achieve in any league in the modern era of football. And it was not without competition, he faced the best managers of all time head on, yet came on top. Limiting a historically strong side like liverpool to a 22 year title-less run, or ousting the best sides to ever play the premier league in Chelsea and Arsenal and winning back the title, is an inhuman achievement. Yet Sir Alex stood, tall, proud and the Red Devils crooning behind him. No man, player or manager can stand toe to toe with him. And I’d bet my life on that nobody will ever overturn his records in this age.
Sir Alex’s biggest achievements does not lie in titles, or records. His biggest would be why a man at 39 years of age still does not want to retire from the game. Or why another player who was retired and coaching the squad decided the boots still belong on his feet and came back from retirement to pull the club back up when it was in crisis. Or why the captain of one of the biggest rivals abandoned his club and came to Old Trafford. Its in the spirit. Its in the belief. Its in every fightback in the last 10 minutes of a game. Its in the reason why the same person who came back from retirement to aid the club, decided to hang up his boots the same week his manager and mentor decided to quit as well. Its in the heart of every red devil. Paul Scholes is one among the greatest midfielders of our age( The best for many players), but SAF made him how he is, how the world has known him to be. The story of Paul Scholes or Ryan Giggs can never be told beyond the first chapter without the story of Sir Alex Ferguson. Countless many follow.
There would be no man whose good health has been prayed for by so many people in the world. Just so that he would go on to manage the club to even greater heights that only he’ll be able to tread. Immortality is something everyone would wish for, but not for another. Unless it was Sir Alexander Chapman Ferguson. Then he’d live eternally, and many times over, cuz we’d all give it to him. Not because he’s our favorite manager. Nor because hes the most successful manager of all time. But because destiny chose him to manage Manchester United in 1986 when he turned down both Arsenal and Tottenham to come to Old Trafford. The story of Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson is not just of success, management, or football. Its a legendary romance.
There’s a reason why Manchester United is at the very top of the world, in riches, fame, fandom and achievements. Theres a reason the city of Manchester turned red with flags and scarves and jerseys sporting Champions on the 13th of May. That its the 20th Title, is not that reason. Nor is it the fact that it was won back from bitter rivals across the city. Nor is it because its his last title, with him still as director, more titles are sure to come by. The reason for it is simple. Its because, every one of them holding a red flag, every one of us in every corner of this world, want to say one simple thing, with tears of gratitude.
Thank you Sir Alex Ferguson.
Old Trafford might be the Theatre of Dreams, but only he could achieve the Impossible Dream.