Sir Alex Ferguson is the most successful manager in the history of British football. He has achieved so much that it is unlikely that his record will ever be matched.
He has managed Manchester United for 26 years. In that time they’ve won everything there is to win. Ferguson transformed them from a sleeping giant into the most successful club in English football.
Early manager jobs in Scotland
After a reasonably successful playing career, Ferguson took his first managerial post at East Stirlingshire. Although he was only 32, he quickly gained a reputation for being a strong disciplinarian. He caught the eye of the hierarchy at St Mirren and joined them after just a few months at East Stirlingshire.
He spent four years at St Mirren. During that time they won two promotions, taking them from being a club going nowhere in the third tier of Scottish football to playing in the top division.
Incredibly, St Mirren sacked Ferguson in 1978. The club accused him of being intimidating towards his secretary and not speaking to her for weeks. An employment tribunal heard that he had been ‘immature and petty’.
Aberdeen and breaking the Glasgow monopoly
He joined Aberdeen in 1978 and really started to make a name for himself. In his second season, Aberdeen were crowned champions of Scotland. They were the first team in 15 years to take the trophy away from the two Glasgow giants, Celtic and Rangers.
Ferguson spent eight years as manager of Aberdeen and won another two Scottish league titles in 1984 and 1985. The club have only won the title four times in their history – Ferguson was manager for three of them.
Aberdeen also won the Scottish Cup four times and the Scottish League Cup under Ferguson’s leadership. Perhaps most impressively of all, they won the only two European trophies in their history – the European Cup Winners Cup and the European Super Cup in 1983. In 1984, Ferguson was awarded an OBE for his services to football.
He was the most successful manager in the Aberdeen’s history and his management techniques had developed rapidly. He was a strict disciplinarian and would explode with fury in the dressing room if his team didn’t perform to his standard. This earned him the nickname ‘Furious Fergie’ amongst the players.
He also lashed out at the media, accusing them of being biased towards Celtic and Rangers. He did this to create a siege mentality which he used to motivate his men.
Coaching the Scottish national team
In 1985, Ferguson joined the coaching staff for the Scottish national team. The manager was Jock Stein, a man Ferguson admired and regarded as a mentor.
When Stein died of a heart attack after a game against Wales, Ferguson took over as manager for the 1986 World Cup. Scotland didn’t make it past the group stage and Ferguson stepped down as manager.
His success with Aberdeen had not gone unnoticed south of the border. He was now one of the hottest properties in British football with many of the biggest clubs in England keen to appoint him. The history of English football could have been very different if Ferguson had agreed to join Wolves, Tottenham or Arsenal but he turned them all down. Ferguson joins Manchester United – Read more