Sir Alex Ferguson: The 26-Year Reign at Old Trafford as Manchester United Manager

Sir Alex FergusonOn November 6th 1986, Sir Alex Ferguson became the manager of Manchester United. Things didn’t start off too well for the Glaswegian as he failed to win a league title in his first 6 seasons at the club, which then prompted many fans to protest and want him to be sacked. In fact, his overall record of games played in those 6 seasons wasn’t anything too special.

Over those 6 seasons, Manchester United played a total of 225 games under Sir Alex Ferguson’s leadership. Of those 225, United won a mere 97 matches, drew 70, and lost 58, resulting in a win rate of just 43% and an average of 1.60 points per game.

After failing to win the league, he was close to being sacked, but a Mark Robins goal that won him the FA Cup in 1990 saved him the managerial position at United. This was his first major trophy at the Manchester club, and it was to be the beginning of an era of domination for Manchester United.

After 7 years as manager at Manchester United, he finally won his first league title. It was the first title the club had won in over 20 years. The first of 4 League Cup triumphs came against Nottingham Forest in a 1-0 win in 1992.

The 1992/93 season was the season of his first league triumph. It was a 3-horse race which included United along with Aston Villa and Norwich City. They didn’t top the table until mid-January, and you could say that the arrival of Eric Cantona from Leeds was a real inspiration. They won the league with a 10-point margin over Aston Villa with 2 games to spare, and 2 Steve Bruce headers against Sheffield Wednesday gave them the title at an overjoyed Old Trafford.

Sir Alex FergusonFerguson’s 2nd title came in the 1993/94 season, where his side beat off competition from big spending Blackburn Rovers and won the league by 8 points with 2 games to spare. A 5-0 thrashing of Sheffield Wednesday was the obvious highlight of another brilliant season for Sir Alex. That same season, they also went on to lift the FA Cup at the old Wembley, beating Chelsea 4-0 in the final.

The 3rd title of Sir Alex’s reign came in the 1995/96 season, where they won the title 4 points ahead of Newcastle United on the final day of the season. It was the season in which Alan Hansen infamously said “You’ll win nothing with kids.” Sir Alex’s young guns certainly defied those odds then as they went on to win the title. They had Eric Cantona and Peter Schmeichel on top form in a series of 1-0 wins as they obliterated Newcastle’s 12-point advantage over them and sent Kevin Keegan and his men into meltdown.

In the 1995/96 season, they again won the FA Cup after defeating Liverpool 1-0. He led his team to another title success in the 1996/97 season, beating off competition from Newcastle, Arsenal, and Liverpool with 2 games to spare, and finished 7 points clear of the challengers.

His 6th title success came in the 1998/99 season: the season of The Treble. It was a glorious year for everyone associated with the club as they went on to win the league title, the FA Cup, and the Champions League. It was Sir Alex’s 2nd FA Cup success, but the most dramatic game of that season had to have been the Champions league Final against Bayern Munich at the Nou Camp.

1-0 down with just a few minutes remaining, they had to conjure up one of the best late comebacks of all time. And they did it; Teddy Sheringham slotted home Ryan Giggs’ miss-hit shot, then not long after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer poked home the winner. There is of course the famous commentary we all remember as well for the winner:

“Beckham… into Sheringham… and Solskjær has won it!”

Sir Alex FergusonIt has stuck in the memories of United fans ever since.

United’s domination domestically had really started to take shape, and it wasn’t long before they won yet another title under Sir Alex. The 7th under his reign came in the 1999/00 season, and they finished with one of the biggest points margins ever.

They were 18 points clear of nearest challengers Arsenal and won the league with 4 games to spare. They completed a hat-trick of league titles in the 2000/01 season, thus creating history, and becoming the first side the win 3 consecutive league titles in the top division.

They had to wait 2 seasons until they got their hands on the title again, it was a strange season, with Arsenal being the better team for much of it. But United had that edge in mentality and put together a string of late winners, and Ruud Van Nistelrooy hit form just at the right time. They eventually won the league by 5 points ahead of Arsenal with 1 game left to play.

In the 2003/04 season, they claimed another FA Cup triumph, beating Millwall in the final. In the 2004/05 season, Sir Alex guided his team to his 2nd League Cup win in a 4-0 win over Wigan Athletic at the Millennium Stadium.

United’s stranglehold on the league title was broken up by Chelsea and Arsenal until the 2006/07 season, but this time around, United were ruthless. Cristiano Ronaldo was developing into a world class player and broke the 20 goal barrier for the season for the first time in his career.

Sir Alex FergusonIt proved to be vital as they took the title back from Chelsea, winning the league by 6 points with 2 to play. They won the title again the season later in what was a magical season for the Reds. They achieved a Premier League and Champions League double that season in one of Sir Alex’s greatest season’s ever. They won the title on the final day of the season following a 2-0 win over Wigan, and won the Champions League on penalties against Chelsea in Moscow.

It was one of the most memorable seasons of all time. The season after he created yet more history as he claimed another hat-trick of titles, this time beating fierce rivals Liverpool to the title. They also managed to get to the Champions League final that season, but were beaten by Barcelona 2-0 in the final in Rome. His final 2 League Cup successes came in 2009 and 2010, beating Tottenham Hostpur on penalties and Aston Villa 2-1 respectively.

His 12th title, arguably one of his best achievements, came in the 2010/11 season, where he did what he originally set out to do: knock Liverpool off their perch. It was United’s 19th league title overall, which surpassed Liverpool’s long standing record of 18 titles. They became the most successful team in English football history.

Sir Alex FergusonThe final title he won was the 2012/13 season, having lost it the year before to city rivals Manchester City; he was more determined than ever to win it this time round, after the heartbreaking way it was taken away from him. He brought in Robin van Persie from Arsenal to add to the goals and he did just that. Winning the title before the end of April is an amazing achievement and one that many fans will remember for a very long time.

You cannot even begin to question to greatness of Sir Alex Ferguson. He has had a fantastic 27 years at Manchester United and may even go down as they greatest manager of all time. 13 league titles, 5 FA Cups, 2 Champions Leagues among many other honors, he has guided many teams to success over the years, and has had some memorable moments and given fans some wonderful memories to last them a life-time.

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Written by OneFutbol