Guest writer David van der Merwe shares with us his views on the soon to be retired, Sir Alex Ferguson.
I grew up in an Afrikaanse home where soccer was not really considered a sport or worth watching. Back in the 80’s we didn’t get to see much soccer on TV specially not European football. I was about 6 years old when I first got introduced to soccer by my mom’s step dad. He was an English Gentleman in the true sense of the word.
It was back in 1986 just after Sir Alex Ferguson took over as manager of Manchester United. The game was one between Liverpool and United. Grandpa was a Liverpool fan and urged me to support them. In his words: “The greatest English team ever.” If it was out of spite or just not wanting to be told who to support, I don’t know, but I decided Man United was the team for me. And that is how I became a Man United supporter. Not a bad choice looking back.
Liverpool won that game and grandpa kept telling me that I made a stupid choice. When Man United finished 11th that year he again urged me to become a Liverpool supporter. My mind however was made up. Years later when Man United won their first title in the EPL I got my revenge and told grandpa this was going to become the best team ever in England. Grandpa died later that year.
But Man United became the best ever team in England and probably in Europe. Sir Alex went on to win 13 EPL titles, countless others and a couple of UEFA titles as well. The best being the treble back in 1999. I remember lying in bed listening to the game on the radio. South Africa at that stage didn’t televise European soccer except on M-Net and we didn’t have that. By midnight I decided with 3 minutes left I was going to sleep. And just before I drifted off Man United scored to goals and won the title.
Ferguson has been a role model for me ever since. He’s had the ability to buy players when they were unknown and made them into great players. Selling them off when others would have held on to them. Supposedly because they were in their prime, but he always made the right choices at the right time. Never having a team full of stars, but rather opting to have one or two stars and a team that plays together and for each other.
The greatest player in my view in English soccer was spotted and managed by Ferguson. Ryan Giggs. No player has played for so long in the EPL or have scored in every season. Giggs has and it is all because of Sir Alex managing him correctly. His career was probably extended by 5 years because of Sir Alex.
Sir Alex has had a long run as manager and it is sad to see him go, but again he did it on his terms. He will be missed by players, fans and all involved with Manchester United, but probably more so by his opposing managers and teams. It will be hard to replace such a soccer mind. Man United will probably suffer for it, but then he left the club in the best possible position.
Sir Alex has won more titles and accolades in his 27 years with United than most clubs has done in their total existence. Sir Alex I salute you for you are a soccer great.
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