16/12/2010 15:00, Report by Nick Coppack
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Charlton sets record straight

This Sunday Sir Alex will become United’s longest-serving manager when he passes Sir Matt Busby’s current milestone of 24 years, one month and 13 days.

If you believe popular myth, however, the Reds boss was lucky to make it beyond 1990. Back then, without a trophy at United after almost four years in the job, Sir Alex was believed to be heading for the exit door if his team didn’t beat Nottingham Forest in the third round of the FA Cup. A Mark Robins goal clinched victory and the Reds went on to lift the trophy at Wembley.

But Sir Bobby Charlton, who’s sat on the United board for the duration of Sir Alex’s reign, maintains Ferguson’s future was never in doubt.

"The media were the ones who were pushing," Charlton says. “"If Alex Ferguson had got sacked it would have been a really good story for them.

"In fairness, their philosophy was based on what they had before. If a manager was unsuccessful, you sack him.

"But behind the scenes, Alex was already successful. There was not a thought about the future of Alex Ferguson at this club.”

In Charlton's eyes it was crucial Ferguson was given enough time for his plans to come together. In the 15 years between the end of Busby’s second managerial stint and Sir Alex’s arrival, the Reds failed to win a single league title and employed four different managers.

Stability would be key if success was to follow.

"Half the problems that people get into is the fact that they get rid of managers too soon. We would not make that mistake.

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