Sir Alex Ferguson and my Manchester United passion

November 10, 2011
2 mins read

“ONE of my earliest memories of Alex is going abroad with him and some other managers to see an international game. For dinner he wore the most immaculate white dinner jacket. But what struck me was his socialism, his intelligence and knowledge of things like history and politics. He has always been a great friend of other, lower managers” – David Pleat (Ex-Tottenham manager)

“We’d just got promoted when my phone rang, and it was Alex, telling all about what to expect in the Premier League….It was quite unsolicited. I didn’t go begging for help. He just rang me up and offered all sorts of advice, because he wanted to help. That says everything about him. He is a fantastic fella, and he always has time for you. He never ever doesn’t return your call. It may be a day later, depending on what he’s got on, but if you leave a message, he gets back to you, without fail”. Tony Pulis (Stoke City Manager)

When Sir Alex Ferguson was appointed manager of Manchester United, 25 years ago this weekend, the team had gone 26 years without winning a league title. Over the last quarter of a century, under his watch, Manchester United has won 37 major victories, including 12 Premiership League titles. Sir Alex Ferguson has become one of the most successful personalities in the history of the beautiful game of football. From whatever field of human endeavour, we can draw inspiration from his incredible commitment, competitive spirit and determination to win; not to forget his humanism.

I have supported Manchester United from the age of eight, since 1968. That was the year they won the old European Cup. It was the generation of Bobby Charlton, Dennis Law, George Best and others. I was growing up in Ilorin and there were no television sets to broadcast those games, unlike now. We depended on the radio and Nigerian newspapers. But one of my uncles was a diplomat, and had returned from a London posting with my cousins, who remembered the game and a combination of their account with my newspaper experience and tales from several other sources, deepened my support for Manchester United. Forty-three years down the line, I have continued to support the team. Not even the frustrating, unsuccessful pre-Sir Alex Ferguson years, and the Liverpool domination of the seventies, dampened my feelings for the team.

The Ferguson years have been phenomenal for the team and its teeming supporters. But what has always been very strong for me is that Sir Alex Ferguson has remained a lifelong supporter of socialism and the working class movement. He comes from a Scottish working class background and has never abandoned his class convictions.

The ethos of hard work and his dogged commitment to the cause of his profession came from his proletarian origins which he remains intensely proud of. Over a 25- year period, he has constantly evolved team after team to take Manchester United to the pinnacle of the international game. So much has been written over the past weekend about Sir Alex, but I have really enjoyed Duncan White’s piece for London’s THE TELEGRAPH on Sunday, November 6. He reminded that the world’s population has increased by two billion since he took over at Old Trafford, commending his “belligerent brilliance” and “a phenomenal work ethic” and in a search for telling clichés about the gaffer, talked of “the mind games, the hairdryer, the stoppage time winner”.

As a tactician, Ferguson was a fascinating case of not being an innovator but has shown “an ability to adapt and learn better than any coach in history”. This he argued was the story of “football Darwinism”, because “Ferguson’s United have sloughed off skin after skin. While Ferguson’s presence on the bench remains constant, his ideas about football constantly evolve. He does not just adapt to survive, he adapts to thrive”. I think that about sums up a man with the outstanding career of Sir Alex Ferguson. As a lifelong supporter of Manchester United, I couldn’t have asked for better!

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