Sunday, 19 December 2010

24 Years, 1 Month, 14 Days - Busby is Beaten

Today, Sunday December 19th 2010 is a day of some significance in the history of British football and specifically in the history of Manchester United.

For today sees Sir Alex Ferguson emulate Sir Matt Busby one final time as manager at Old Trafford - today see's him become the longest serving manager in the history of that famous club.

Sir Matt Busby
When Ferguson took charge from 'Big' Ron Atkinson in November 1986, United had gone 19 years since winning a league title.

That league title of 1967 had been won under Sir Matt Busby. He was the man who built Manchester United into a force to be reckoned with after WWII and then, after the Munich Air Disaster in 1958, re-built the side again. He won five league titles, two FA Cups and the culmination of his career was winning the coveted European Cup against Benfica at Wembley in 1968. He was Mr Manchester United and the statue that stands outside the stadium in his honour serves to remind both fans of the Red Devils and those like myself who don't, that this was a man of great integrity who was respected by all who knew him.

Sir Alex Ferguson
Busby cast an understandly long shadow. Between his departure and Alex Ferguson's arrival, United went through 5 managers - Wilf McGuinness, Frank O'Farrell, Tommy Docherty, Dave Sexton and Ron Atkinson.

Despite a slow start, taking 4 years to win his first piece of silverware with the FA Cup in 1990, Ferguson has done what his 5 predecessors could only have dreamt of - reviving the Busby glory years with those of his own and some.

Feruson's record is stunning and will prbably never be beaten. United have won 26 major honours under Ferguson. They've won 11 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, four League Cups, a Cup-Winners' Cup and, most crucially – for Ferguson has always bought into the United philosophy that Europe's premier competition is the biggest prize – two Champions Leagues titles (the first one in 1999 ironically coming on what would have been Busby's 90th birthday).

Like Busby, Ferguson's main quality has been the ability to be ruthless where necessary to re-build a team. He's done so to great success and whilst his manner is more abrasive than his famous predecessor, no-one can say that he doesn't deserve the spoils of his success.

The Future?
But Ferguson has no time to look back. He's still looking forward and at present, his Old Trafford outfit are 2 points clear at the top of the Premiership. He's guided the Red Devils level with Liverpool on 18 league titles each. He'd love to steer them to a record 19th league title next May.

But today, he can take a day off and look back at what has been an extraordinary career at Old Trafford. At a time when managers are expected to have to make an instant impact at a club and when the likes of Chris Hughton and 'Big' Sam Allardyce have both been riduculously sacked in recent weeks, Ferguson's example should shine like a star to all of those foolish Chairmen across the land.

Ferguson today surpasses Busby's record as manager of Manchester United of 24 years, 1 month and 14 days.

How long will he go on for and who could fill his shoes when he does?

I don't know so I'll end with a quote from the man himself. Just a few weeks ago on being asked about retirement he said this: "Retirement is for young people. I'm too old to retire".

But there's one thing I do know. When he does retire, the United faithful would be mad not to erect another statue of the man alongside that of Busby. He deserves it.

No comments:

Post a Comment