How Was Sir Alex Ferguson Able to Dominate English Soccer?

Sir Alex Ferguson is one of the most successful managers in the history of English soccer. He was in charge of Manchester United between 1986 and 2013, winning 13 Premier League titles, two Champions Leagues, five FA Cups, and four EFL Cups.

The Scotsman was known for being a fierce character who let his players know when they were not meeting his high standards. When he felt big-name players were no longer fitting into his dressing room, he was not afraid to let them go, as was the case with David Beckham, Roy Keane, and Jaap Stam.

Ferguson remains a big part of Manchester United, despite now being retired. He has a stand named after him at Old Trafford, there is a statue of him just outside the ground in Manchester, while he regularly attends home and away matches.

Ferguson Arrived at Old Trafford Follow Success in Scotland?

Before arriving in Manchester, Ferguson caught the eye of several major clubs in England due to his success in Scotland. He was able to stop Rangers and Celtic’s stronghold on the Scottish league title, as he won the championship with Aberdeen in 1980.

In 1983 Ferguson led Aberdeen to one of their greatest-ever achievements. They won the European Cup Winners’ Cup, defeating the giants of Bayern Munich and Real Madrid on route to the trophy. That was a huge accomplishment at the time.

Further league titles with the Dons followed in 1984 and 1985 before Manchester United came knocking for his services following the dismissal of Ron Atkinson as their manager.

United Showed Patience in Ferguson

The first four years of Ferguson’s spell at Manchester United did not go very well. There were various points during that period when fans of the club were singing for the Scot to be dismissed from his job.

The turning point for the United manager came in 1990 when his side won the FA Cup. That was his first major trophy in England. They defeated Crystal Palace 1-0 in a replay of the final after the opening game finished 3-3.

That success at Wembley gave Ferguson and his players a lot of confidence. It was also a reward for the board’s confidence in his ability.

Ferguson Gave Opportunities to the Class of '92

A large part of Ferguson’s success at Manchester United came through the class of ’92. Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, and Paul Scholes all came through the academy at the club at the same time. Ferguson gave them lots of opportunities in the first team early in their career, despite some pundits claiming it would be a mistake.

The class of ’92 helped United dominate during the second half of the 90s and into the 00s. Beckham went on to become one of the biggest names in world soccer, eventually moving to Real Madrid, while Scholes and the Neville brothers were key players for club and country.
Although they all were subject to Ferguson’s famous hairdryer treatment at some point in their careers, the class of ‘92 all claim that their manager was a key part of their success. He was a father figure to many of his players and they rewarded him for that loyalty and support by delivering regular trophies to the club.

Miracle at the Nou Camp in Barcelona

One of Ferguson’s most memorable games as Manchester United manager came in 1999 in the UEFA Champions League final in Barcelona. They had just won the league and cup double and they needed success against Bayern Munich to complete the treble.

Up until 1999, Ferguson had yet to win the Champions League. His side was trailing going into stoppage time of the game before goals from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer completed a remarkable comeback in the Spanish city.

That game against the German giants optimized what Ferguson’s team showed throughout his spell as United’s manager. They would often score late goals as they gave everything for their manager right until the referee’s whistle.

Ferguson went on to win a second Champions League title in 2008. His side defeated domestic rivals Chelsea on penalties in Moscow. They also reached the final in 2009 and 2011, but they were beaten by Barcelona on both occasions.

Rivalry with Wenger, Benitez, and Mourinho

During his 27-year spell as manager of United, Ferguson had several rivals, something he never shied away from. He appeared to enjoy the competition from rival clubs’ managers. Arguably the most notable came with Arsene Wenger who was in charge of Arsenal. Those two men seemed to get the best out of each other during their many battles.

Kevin Keegan (Newcastle) and Rafa Benitez (Liverpool) are two managers who lost their cool in press conferences due to the pressure Ferguson put on them, while in the latter stages of his time at United, Ferguson had a competitive rivalry with the then Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.

Ferguson was seen as the master of psychology. He knew how to play into his opposite number’s weaknesses, while what he said to the press about his players was not often what he said in the dressing room.

Lack of Success Since Ferguson Retired

United has struggled for success since Ferguson retired in 2013. They have had six different managers in that time. David Moyes was the first, but he lasted just ten months at Old Trafford.

Erik ten Hag is the latest to try and deliver a Premier League title to Manchester United. His side is +2000 in the betting for the title this season. Those looking to back the Reds can take advantage of the 2nd chance bet promotion which is offered by Points Bet. It means if United’s drought without the title continues, those who bet on them can pick up a free bet of up to $100 to use on any sport.

This is ten Hag’s second season at United. He won the EFL Cup last season when his side defeated Newcastle at Wembley. The Dutchman also helped the Manchester club qualify back into the Champions League, so there are some positives for United fans to take since his arrival.

Guardiola Only Manager Coming Close to Matching Ferguson’s Records

The most successful manager in England, since Ferguson retired, has been Pep Guardiola. The Spaniard was appointed as the boss of Manchester City in 2016 and since then he has won five Premier League titles, a Champions League, two FA Cups, and the EFL Cup four times.

Guardiola has landed league championships in Spain, Germany, and England as a manager. He has also helped Manchester City become a huge force in Europe, with two appearances in the Champions League in the last three years.

Although he has a long way to go to match the longevity that Ferguson showed through four decades, in a period where football clubs change their manager frequently, the former Barcelona midfielder has become a legend at Manchester City, as he is their most successful manager in history.

Ferguson is someone who inspired many of today’s managers in the sport to go into management. They will all be hoping to achieve just a small percentage of what the Scotsman accomplished in the game before they join him in retirement.