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Profile of Alex Ferguson
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|Date of Birth:
||17th November 1984
|Place of Birth:
||Escondido, California, USA
Sir Alex Ferguson (born Alexander Chapman Ferguson December 31, 1941 in Govan, Glasgow) is a Scottish football manager and former player, currently managing Manchester United F.C. He has won more trophies than any other manager in the history of English football and been in charge of Manchester United for over 1,000 matches.
He has previously managed East Stirlingshire and St Mirren, before a highly successful period as manager of Aberdeen. He was briefly the manager of Scotland, in a temporary capacity, owing to the death of Jock Stein, before becoming the manager of Manchester United.
At Manchester United, Ferguson has become one of the most successful managers in the history of English football, having guided the team to eight league championships. In 1999, he became the first manager to lead an English team to the treble of league, FA Cup and European Cup.
He began as an amateur at Queen's Park, making his debut at 16 as a striker. He described his first match as a "nightmare" but scored Queen's Park's goal in a 2-1 defeat against Stranraer. Although he scored 15 goals in his 31 games for Queen's Park, he could not command a regular place in the side and moved to St Johnstone in 1960.
Although he continued to score regularly at St Johnstone, he was still unable to command a regular place and regularly requested transfers. Although he was out of favour at the club, their failure to sign a forward led the manager to select Ferguson for a match against Rangers, in which he scored a hat trick [3 goals] in a surprise victory. Dunfermline signed him the following summer (1964.)
The following season (1964-65), Dunfermline were strong challengers for the Scottish League and reached the Scottish Cup Final, but Ferguson was dropped for the final after a poor performance in a league game against St Johnstone. Dunfermline lost the final 3-2 to Celtic, then failed to win the League by one point.
In 1967, he joined Rangers for £65,000, then a record fee for a transfer between two Scottish clubs. He was blamed for a goal that they conceded in the 1969 Scottish cup final, and was forced to play for the club's junior side instead of the first team. According to his brother, Ferguson was so upset by the experience that he threw his losers' medal away.
The following October, Nottingham Forest wanted to sign Ferguson, but his wife was not keen on moving to England at that time so he went to Falkirk instead. He was promoted to player-coach there, but when John Prentice became manager he removed Ferguson's coaching responsiblities. Ferguson responded by requesting a transfer and moved to Ayr United, where he finished his playing career.
Early managerial career
In June 1974, Ferguson was appointed manager of East Stirlingshire, at the comparitively young age of 32. It was a part-time job that paid £40 per week, and the club didn't have a single goalkeeper at the time. He immediately gained a reputation as a disciplinarian, with one of his players later saying he had "never been afraid of anyone before but [Ferguson] was a frightening bastard from the start". His players admired his tactical decisions, however, and the club's results improved considerably.
The following October, Ferguson was invited to manage St Mirren. Although they were below East Stirlingshire in the league, they were a bigger club and although Ferguson felt a degree of loyalty towards East Stirlingshire, he decided to join St Mirren after taking advice from Jock Stein.
Ferguson was manager of St Mirren from 1974-1978.
Ferguson joined Aberdeen as manager in June 1978. Although Aberdeen was one of Scotland's major clubs, they had not won the league since 1955. The team had been playing well, however, and had not lost a league match since the previous December, having finished second in the league the previous season. Ferguson had now been a manager for four years, but was still not much older than some of the players and had trouble winning the respect of some of the older ones such as Joe Harper The season did not go especially well, with Aberdeen reaching the semi-final of the Scottish F.A. Cup and the final of the league cup, but losing both matches and finishing fourth in the league.
The following December (1980), they lost the league cup final again, this time to Dundee United after a replay. Ferguson took the blame for the defeat, saying he should have made changes to the team for the replay. It was the third time in three years that a team managed by Ferguson had lost a cup final. Aberdeen's had started the season poorly but their form improved dramatically in the new year and they won the Scottish league that season with a 5-0 win on the final day. It was the first time in fifteen years that the league had not been won by either Rangers or Celtic. Ferguson now felt that he had the respect of his players, later saying "That was the achievement which united us. I finally had the players believing in me".
He was still a strict disciplinarian, though, and his players nicknamed him Furious Fergie. He fined one of his players, John Hewitt, for overtaking him on a public road, and kicked a tea urn at the players at half time after a poor first half.. He was dissatisfied with the atmosphere at Aberdeen matches, and deliberately created a 'siege mentality' by accusing the Scottish media of being biased towards the Glasgow clubs, in order to motivate the team. The team continued their success with a Scottish Cup win in 1982. Ferguson was offered the managers' job at Wolves but turned it down as he felt that Wolves were in trouble and "[his] ambitions as Aberdeen were not even half fulfilled"
Ferguson led Aberdeen to even greater success the following season (1982-83). They had qualified for the European Cup Winners' Cup as a result of winning the Scottish Cup the previous season, and impressively knocked out Bayern Munich, who had beaten Tottenham Hotspur 4–1 in the previous round. According to Willie Miller, this gave them the confidence to believe that they could go on to win the competition, which they did, with a 2–1 victory over Real Madrid in the final on 11 May 1983. Aberdeen became only the third Scottish team to win a European trophy and Ferguson now felt that "he'd done something worthwhile with his life". Aberdeen had also performed well in the league that season, and retained the Scottish Cup with a 1–0 victory over Rangers, but Ferguson was not happy with his team's play in that match and upset the players by describing them as a "disgraceful performance" in a televised interview after the match.
After a poor start to the 1983-84 season, Aberdeen's form improved and the team won the Scottish league and retained the Scottish Cup. Ferguson was awarded the OBE in 1984 honours list, and was offered the managers' jobs at Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur during the season. Aberdeen retained their league title in the 1984-85 season, but had a disappointing season in 1985-86, finishing fourth in the league, although they did win both domestic cups. Ferguson had been appointed to the club's board of directors early in 1986, but that April he told Dick Donald, their chairman, that he intended to leave that summer. There had been speculation that he would take over from Ron Atkinson at Manchester United, who had been struggling badly that season after a good start. Although Ferguson remained at the club over the summer, he did eventually join Manchester United when Atkinson was sacked in November 1986.
Managing Manchester United
1986–1987: Old Trafford Arrival
He was appointed manager at Old Trafford on November 6, 1986. When Ferguson took over, the club was second from bottom in the old First Division and relegation looked a real possibility. As the season went on, Ferguson rejuvenated the club's fortunes on the pitch and they climbed up the table to finish 11th.
1987–1988: Good Progress
The 1987–88 season saw some major signings at Old Trafford, including Steve Bruce, Viv Anderson, Brian McClair and Jim Leighton. Alex Ferguson did a lot to bolster the club's position and they finished runners-up to Liverpool by nine points.
1989–1990: A tough season.... but a glorious finale
On the opening day of the season United beat defending champions Arsenal 4-1 and there was hope that the league title would return to Old Trafford having being absent since 1967. The squad had also been boosted by the addition of Paul Ince, Neil Webb, Danny Wallace and Gary Pallister. But in September, United suffered a humiliating 5-1 away defeat against neighbours Manchester City who had just been promoted back to the top division after a two-year absence. Over the next three months things went downhill, and by the turn of 1990, Manchester United were 15th of 20 in the First Division and there were calls from the press and from the club's supporters for Ferguson to be sacked. But Ferguson later revealed that the club's board of directors had never discussed the possibility. Although naturally disappointing at the lack of success in the league, the board understood that Ferguson's chances of success had been sabotaged by an injury crisis amongst the players and they were pleased with the way he had reorganised the club.
In January 1990, Manchester United were drawn away to Nottingham Forest in the third round of the FA Cup. Forest were one of the most feared cup teams in that era, and everyone was predicting for United to lose the game and for Ferguson to lose his job. But United won the game 1-0, with Mark Robins scoring the goal, and made it all the way to the final despite never being drawn at home.
In the final United drew 3-3 with Crystal Palace, with Mark Hughes scoring twice and Bryan Robson scoring once. United won the replay 1-0 with a goal from defender Lee Martin, who nearly didn't play because the manager feared that he was physically unfit to withstand the challenge, and United would be England's representatives in the 1990–91 European Cup Winners Cup - the ban on English teams playing in Europe following the Heysel Stadium disaster was now lifted after five years.
United finished 13th in the 1989–90 league season but everyone was confident they could finish much higher in 1990–91.
1990–1991: Cup Winners' Cup Glory
1990–91 brought more success for Manchester United. Their league form was improved but still inconsistent, so they finished sixth, but they fared much better in cup competitions. Although they lost their defence of the FA Cup to Norwich in the fifth round, they reached the finals of both the Cup Winners' Cup and the League Cup. In the League Cup final they underestimated the opposition, Second Division promotion challengers Sheffield Wednesday, and lost 1-0 to a team managed by former United manager Ron Atkinson. The goalscorer on that day was John Sheridan, a lifelong Manchester United supporter.
United were drawn with Barcelona in the Cup Winners Cup final at Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Mark Hughes, who had spent a season at Barcelona in the 1980's but failed to settle, scored twice against his old club to secure a 2-1 win for United.
1991–1992: Nearly But Not Quite
In 1991–92, Manchester United won their first ever League Cup but lost out on the league title to Leeds United.
1992–1993: Champions at Last
After a slow start to the season (they were 10th of 22 at the beginning of November) it looked as though United would miss out on the championship again. But then Alex Ferugson paid Leeds United £1.2 million for their French striker Eric Cantona and the deal proved to be a turning point in the history of Manchester United. Cantona formed a strong partnership with Mark Hughes and fired the club to the top of the table, ending United's 26-year wait.
1993–1994: The Double
1993–94 brought more success for Alex Ferguson and Manchester United. He added Nottingham Forest's 22-year-old midfielder Roy Keane to the ranks for a British record fee of £3.75million as a long term replacement for Bryan Robson, although the Old Trafford legend remained in the squad for one more season.
United led the 1993–94 Premiership table virtually from start to finish and this time they finished champions ahead of runners-up Blackburn. Eric Cantona was top scorer with 25 goals in all competitions despite being sent off twice in the space of five days in March 1994. United also reached the League Cup final but lost 3-1 to Ron Atkinson's Aston Villa. In the FA Cup final Manchester United achieved an impressive 4-0 scoreline against Chelsea and the result confirmed Alex Ferguson's place as one of the greatest managers in the English game. United had become only the sixth club ever to win the League Championship/FA Cup double.
1994–1995: Trophyless season
1994–95 was perhaps Alex Ferguson's most difficult season as Manchester United manager. Key players like Paul Parker, Lee Sharpe and Andrei Kanchelskis were absent in many matches because of injury, and Eric Cantona was absent for the final four months of the season as he began an eight-month ban for assaulting a Crystal Palace supporter in a game at Selhurst Park. Cantona received a 14-day prison sentence for the offence but the sentence was quashed on appeal and replaced by a 120-hour community service order. On the brighter side, United hit the headlines two weeks before the Cantona incident when they paid a British record fee of £7million for Newcastle's prolific striker Andy Cole, who began his Old Trafford career with 12 goals in 18 league games.
However, the championship slipped out of Manchester United's grasp as they were unable to get the better of West Ham United who held them to a 1-1 draw on the final day of the season. It was all the more frustrating for Ferguson because champions Blackburn (celebrating their first title success since 1914) lost 2-1 in their final game of the season at Liverpool. United also lost the FA Cup final in a 1-0 defeat to Everton.
1995–1996: The Double Double
Ferguson was heavily criticised in the summer of 1995 when three of United's star players were allowed to leave and replacements were not bought. First Paul Ince moved to Inter Milan of Italy for £7.5 million. Ince was a regluar England international but had fallen out with Ferguson. Within 24 hours of Ince's departure, long serving striker Mark Hughes was suddenly sold to Chelsea in a £1.5 million deal, after it emerged that he had not signed the contract he had been offered the previous January. Shortly afterwards, Andrei Kanchelskis was sold to Everton. It was widely known that Ferguson felt that United had a number of young players who were ready to play in the first team, but there was considerable scepticism that they would be adequate replacements for Ince, Hughes and Kanchelskis.
When United lost their first league match 3–1 to Aston Villa, the media swooped upon Ferguson with undisguised glee. They wrote United off because Alex Ferguson's squad contained so many young and inexperienced players. However, the young players performed well and United won their next five matches. Although boosted by Eric Cantona's return from suspension, they found themselves eleven points behind Newcastle in December, but a series of good results in early 1996 saw them overtake their rivals and regain the league championship. They played Liverpool in that year's FA Cup final, winning 1–0 with a late goal by Eric Cantona.
1996–1997: Another Title
1996–97 saw Alex Ferguson guide Manchester United to their fourth Premiership title in five seasons, despite some trials and tribulations along the way. In late October, they suffered three league defeats in a row and conceded 13 goals in the process. In January they were knocked out of the FA Cup by Wimbledon in the Fourth Round, meaning they would not be in the final for the first time since 1993. They also lost their 40 year unbeaten home record in Europe to unfancied Turkish side Fenerbahçe. But they still reached the Champions League semi final, where they lost to Borussia Dortmund of Germany, and fought off competition from Newcastle United, Arsenal and Liverpool to win the league title. At the end of the season, Eric Cantona announced his retirement as a player and sent shock waves around the footballing world.
1997–1998: A great start but a disappointing end
1997–98 ended trophyless but United still finished runners-up to Arsenal (who had trailed them by 11 points at the beginning of March but had taken advantage of games in hand) and reached the Champions League quarter final.
In the summer of 1998, Alex Ferguson spent a total of £33 million on four major signings: Aston Villa's Trinidadian striker Dwight Yorke, PSV's Dutch defender Jaap Stam, Parma's Swedish winger Jesper Blomqvist and Blackburn's Henning Berg. Long serving players Gary Pallister and Brian McClair both left the club to seek new pastures for the final few years of their careers.
1998–1999: The Treble
The new signings paid off in 1998–99, which proved to be the most successful season yet in the history of Manchester United. They fought off the competition from rival teams to win a unique treble of the Premiership title, FA Cup and Champions League. They defeated Newcastle United 2-0 in the FA Cup Final at Wembley thanks to goals from Teddy Sheringham and Paul Scholes. The European triumph was the most incredible of all. With 90 minutes on the clock they were 1-0 down to Bayern Munich at the Nou Camp in Barcelona thanks to a Mario Basler free kick, but in 3 minutes of injury time allowed by the referee, Teddy Sheringham equalised and extra time looked certain. But with just seconds left on the clock, Ole Gunnar Solskjær scored the winning goal and history was made.
On 12 June 1999, Alex Ferguson received a knighthood in recognition for his services to the game.
1999-2000: Title number 6
Manchester United ended the 1999-2000 season as champions with just three Premiership defeats, and with Arsenal in second place. Last season the gap at the top had been just 1 point. This time the gap was 18 points.
In April 2000, it was announced that Manchester United had agreed to sign Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy from PSV Eindhoven for a British record fee of £18million. But the move was put on hold when van Nistelrooy failed a medical, and he then returned to his homeland in a bid to regain fitness, only to suffer a serious knee injury which ruled him out for almost a year.
2000-01: Title number 7
The major change to the Manchester United side for the 2000-01 season was the acquisition of 29-year-old French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez from Monaco for £7.8million - making him the most expensive goalkeeper to be signed by a British club.
Another change to the line-up was Teddy Sheringham winning his first team place back after two seasons of often being included as only a substitute. By the end of the season, the 35-year-old Sheringham was Manchester United's leading scorer in all competitions and had been presented with both the PFA Player of the Year Award and the Football Writers Player of the Year Award.
During the 2001 close season, Manchester United again broke the British transfer record - this time paying Lazio £28.1million for Argentine attacking midfielder Juan Sebastián Verón. Although the player's form wasn't at all bad and he had his fair share of first team appearances, Verón failed to live up to the high expectations his transfer fee suggested and two years later he was offloaded to Chelsea in a £15million deal. Verón's spell at Chelsea proved to be even less successful, and after just seven Premiership appearances during the 2003-04 season he agreed a one-year loan deal with Inter Milan.
2001-02: A rare, trophyless season
Two games into the 2001-02 season, Manchester United fans were shocked when Dutch central defender Jaap Stam was suddenly sold to Lazio in a £16million deal. The reason for Stam's departure was believed to have been claims in his autobiography Head to Head that he had been illegally spoken to about a move to Manchester United by Alex Ferguson, before his previous club PSV Eindhoven had been informed. The club's supporters were even more shocked when Sir Alex Ferguson replaced Stam with Inter Milan's 35-year-old central defender Laurent Blanc.
During November and early December in 2001, Manchester United endured their worst league form in over a decade - six defeats in seven Premiership fixtures, three defeats at each side of a win. On 8th December 2001, Manchester United were ninth in the Premiership - 11 points behind leaders Liverpool who had a game in hand. Sir Alex Ferguson had already written off his side's chances of claiming a unique fourth successive Premiership title.
But then came a dramatic turn around in form. Between mid-December and late January, nine successive wins saw Manchester United climb to the top of the Premiership and put their title challenge back on track.
In the end, United finished third in the Premiership (their first finish outside the top two since they finished sixth in the 1990-91 old First Division), lost on away goals to Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League Semi Finals, were knocked out of the FA Cup in the Fourth Round by Middlesbrough, and were knocked out of the League Cup in the Third Round by Arsenal. This meant that Manchester United had failed to finish winners or runners-up of a major competition for the first time since the 1988-89 season. United's misery was compounded as Arsenal clinched the Premiership Title at Old Trafford with a 1-0 win in the penultimate game of the season.
The 2001-02 season was to have been Sir Alex Ferguson's last as Manchester United manager, but in February 2002 he agreed to stay in charge for at least another three years.
The close season saw Manchester United break the British transfer record yet again when they paid Leeds United £30million for 24-year-old central defender Rio Ferdinand.
2002-03: Title number 8
Manchester United yielded their eighth Premiership title in 11 seasons at the end of 2002-03, yet just over two months before the end of the season they had lost to Liverpool in the League Cup final and slipped eight points behind leaders Arsenal on the same day. But an improvement in form for United, and a decline for Arsenal, saw the Premiership trophy gradually slip out of the Londoners' grasp and push it back in the direction of Old Trafford.
On 4 May 2003, Manchester United's title success was confirmed when Arsenal lost 3-2 at home to Leeds United - a result which ended Arsenal's title hopes and secured Leeds's survival. Ironically, it was to be Arsenal's last Premiership defeat for 49 games - a run which was ended in October 2004 by Manchester United, a run which included Arsenal completing the 2003-04 season as unbeaten Premiership champions.
2003-04: FA Cup Glory
Sir Alex Ferguson guided Manchester United to their eleventh FA Cup at the end of the 2003-04 season, but it only partly compensated for a relatively disappointing season which had seen them finish third in the Premiership and suffer Champions League elimination at the hands of eventual winners FC Porto, and a League Cup defeat by Aston Villa. This was partly caused by the absence of Rio Ferdinand for the final four months of the season, as he served the beginning of an eight-month ban for missing a drugs test. New signings like Eric Djemba-Djemba and Jose Kleberson were disappointing, but there was at least one productive signing - 19-year-old Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo, who had been signed from Sporting Lisbon for £12.24million.
Fabien Barthez spent the season on loan at Marseille and was then sold on a permanent basis, and his place in the United goal was filled by American goalkeeper Tim Howard.
At the beginning of the 2004-05 season, Manchester United paid an initial fee of £20million for 19-year-old Everton and England striker Wayne Rooney, whose performances led to him being voted PFA Young Player of the Year at the end of the season. Argentine defender Gabriel Heinze also proved to be a successful new signing, while Cristiano Ronaldo continued where he had left off the previous season by putting in more match-winning performances.
United were never favourites to win the 2004-05 Premiership title, again their failure could be put down to a player's absence - high-scoring striker Ruud van Nistelrooy was unavailable for almost half of the season due to injury and his deputy Alan Smith was unremarkable. Ferguson guided the club to a third-place finish for the third time in four seasons, in the F.A Cup they lost on penalties to Arsenal after a dominant United failed to break the 'Gunners' down in the FA Cup final after a goalless draw.
Sir Alex Ferguson expects to be Manchester United manager for at least another three seasons, until the summer of 2008. He is currently enjoying his 32nd consecutive season in management and his 20th at United.
Awards and trophies in English football
On 23 November 2004 Ferguson managed Manchester United for the 1000th time in a Champions League match against Lyon. The breakdown of those matches is as follows:
- League games: 707
- Charity/Community Shield: 11
- League Cup: 65
- FA Cup: 78
- Euro Cup/Champions League: 116
- Cup Winners Cup: 13
- UEFA Cup: 4
- Super Cup: 2
- World Club Championship: 3
- Toyota Cup: 1
FA Premiership (8): 1992/93, 1993/94, 1995/96, 1996/97, 1998/99, 1999/00, 2000/01, 2002/03
Runners up: (3): 1991/92, 1994/95, 1997/98
FA Cup (5): 1989/90, 1993/94, 1995/96, 1998/99, 2003/04
Finalists: (2): 1994/95, 2004/05
League Cup (1): 1991/92
Finalists: (3): 1990/91, 1993/94, 2002/03
FA Charity/Community Shield (5): 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2003
Finalists (5): 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004
Shared (1): 1990
UEFA Champions League (1): 1998/1999
European Cup Winners Cup (1): 1990/91
Intercontinental Cup (1): 1999 (aka Toyota Cup since 1980)
UEFA Supercup: (1) 1991/92 Finalists: (1) 1999/00
Total trophies won: 23
[NOTES] The 1990 Charity Shield Final was drawn 1-1 with Liverpool and each club kept the shield for 6 months. The penalty shoot-out decider was abolished in the 1980s and only reinstated in 1993.
In 2005, the Collins English Dictionary included the phrase "squeaky-bum time", coined by Sir Alex.
|Manchester United manager
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