Gary Neville speaks about Sir Alex's 25 years at the helm...
How would you sum up Sir Alex’s achievements?
To be at this club for so long is staggering. You would never believe that it could happen. Manchester United had Sir Matt Busby, so to have someone who has replicated his longevity at the club and surpassed his success, you would never believe it could be achieved. That’s the magnitude of what Sir Alex Ferguson has done for the club, and more than that: the success, the way he’s played, bringing through young players and the performance levels over that time. Everything has been right.
What do you think is his greatest achievement?
The success with different teams over a long period. Over the 25 years he’s had to build four or five teams in that period, it’s not just one team that he’s inherited or bought. He’s had to change it and move with the times. You’re probably talking about five teams he’s built over 25 years to achieve this success. A manager struggles to build one team, but for one manager to build five successful teams at this club is unbelievable.
How much success hinged on the promotion of youth?
He said that if we were good enough we would always get the chance and he stood by that. We joined in 1992 and you never think one of you can come through, let alone six or seven of you coming through and playing in the same first team for 10 years together. That will be one of the focal points of his legacy: bringing that ’92 team through and winning the European Cup with them seven years later.
What do you recall of breaking into the first team?
The real starter for us was the first day of 1995/96 when he put six or seven of us in that first day at Aston Villa and said ‘look, away you go lads. This is it’. We had a bad start, but then we won three games in the next seven days after that and we just felt unbeatable. We’d always won trophies as young players, every trophy we could, so this was the next progression