What can we learn from Sir Alex Ferguson.
Recently, an underground, dim-lit, mysterious photograph has emerged of Alex Ferguson and Erik Ten Hag meeting at a restaurant in what looks like an image drawn straight from the Sopranos.
Younger understudy meets old wise head to discuss politics, tactics and the fall of a current regime. Perhaps the noisy neighbours draped in Light Blue were the hot topic of conversation, perhaps not.
Erik Ten Hag emerged this week with a first trophy for Manchester United under his new guidance in the form of the League Cup or Caraboa depending on your persuasion. It somewhat pales insignificance when we blow the dust from the trophy cabinet amassed by Sir Alex, however it has now been a decade since he handed the crumbling reigns of Old Trafford over to David Moyes.
And crumble they did.
Lets not swim through that demise but focus more on the fact that success at this football club was drawn from a pivotal strength, from a man who appears to still very much bare the white knuckled responsibility of how the mechanisms of this institution ticks.
So what can we learn from Sir Alex Ferguson?
Manchester United have spent an awful lot of money, its football in 2023. With names like Anthony, Casemiro and Martinez all costing an accumulative amount of approximately 200 million pounds, excusing the small change. But what of the names Scholes, Beckham and Giggs…all servants of that Sir Alex period in time and all amassing way over 400 appearances for the club, you quickly begin to see that a managers philosophy and vision is more often than not the pull and mainstay of any trophy spanning era.
We’re seeing that clearly with Pep Guardiola and his understudy Mikael Arteta, the aforementioned being quoted as saying Manchester United’s greatness was down to Sir Alex Ferguson maintaining the winning of trophies and re-creating great teams.
You only have to look at Sir Alex’s last game in charge to realise that entertainment and crowd pleasing was as important as picking up the 3 points, he signed off with a 5-5 draw against West Brom at the Hawthorns. A scoreline unmatched in Premier League history and with Ferguson being quoted as saying “I’ve never played for a draw in my life” it is quite fitting.
With 13 Premier League titles over his 26 year reign and 2 Champions League triumphs its easy to see his logic in the quote “We had a virus that infected everyone at United. It was called winning”.
Success for Erik Ten Hag this past weekend could be more than winning the Caraboa Cup, it could be more than the rotund silverware and the day-trip to Wembley.
For ardent Man Utd supporters this could be the defining moment of that wonderful word in football…Momentum.
As quoted by todays greats of the managerial game, its about maintaining that winning feeling and the constant building of a football philosophy. We only need to look at the reemergence of Arsenal this season to see what having “faith in the system” can achieve from being faced with an almost similar fall from grace since the departure of the equally impressive Arsene Wenger.
But…could that dim-lit photograph of Sir Alex and Erik Ten Hag indulged in conversation have been the catalyst for a new dawn, a new era but with the same mantra still echoing around the changing room…”Dont Give In”.
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