35 years since Sir Alex became United boss

Saturday 06 November 2021 04:00

Today, 6 November, marks exactly 35 years since Sir Alex Ferguson was appointed Manchester United manager, back in 1986.

It would prove one of the most important events in the club’s long and dramatic history, and began arguably the greatest managerial reign the game of football has ever witnessed.
United had not won a top-flight league title since 1967, and Liverpool and Everton were the dominant forces in English football.
The Scot had enjoyed great success north of the border at Aberdeen, but had no experience in England as a player or manager.
Sir Alex sits alongside chairman Martin Edwards, at his very first United press conference.
However, once the man from Govan had helped the Reds to a first major trophy – the 1990 FA Cup – he never looked back. And what followed was over 20 years of near unbroken success, encompassing 13 Premier League titles, two Champions Leagues and five FA Cups.
The early years at Old Trafford were difficult though, as Sir Alex remembered in his 1999 autobiography, Managing My Life.
“When I joined United on 6 November 1986, they had gone 19 years without a title and nobody had to tell me that if I did not end that drought I would be a failure.

“Putting them in a position to challenge constantly would, I knew, be a long haul. I would have to build from the bottom up, rectifying the flaws I had recognised and spreading my influence and self-belief through every layer of the organisation.
“I wanted to form a personal link with everybody around the place – not just the players, the coaches and the backroom staff but the office workers, the cooks and servers in the canteen and the laundry ladies. All had to believe that they were part of the club and that a resurgence was coming.
“But unless the rebuilding was accompanied by a measure of success, there was bound to be doubt about whether I would be given enough time to fulfil my plans.”
The new manager tries on the club merchandise for size.
Frank McGhee, The Guardian: “The manager Manchester United really need, have desperately lacked and would love to have is unavailable and disqualified for one reason. He is 76 years old. But if they can't get Sir Matt Busby, it is obvious that they must look for someone with almost all that marvellous man's qualities – reaching for the lot would be asking for a bit much. The indications are that in Alex Ferguson they may have come fairly close to hitting the target, even though the most they can hope for is an inner rather than a bullseye.”

Patrick Glenn, The Observer: “When Martin Edwards offered Alex Ferguson the Manchester United job last Thursday, it was as if the Big Fisherman himself had held out the key to the Pearly Gates. The very idea of Ferguson's non-acceptance was absurd. His irresistible competitiveness – at times, it borders on the psychopathic – has long been sustained by apparently endless energy, and to have refused the biggest club in Britain would have seemed to Ferguson a self-betrayal deserving of hara-kiri. Ferguson's unshakable commitment to whatever cause he espouses has been evident since, as a teenager, he led his fellow apprentice toolmakers' industrial action at their factory on the south side of Glasgow.”
Signing autographs for some young Reds at The Cliff training ground.
Associated Press: “Having previously rejected offers from Glasgow Rangers and Tottenham, plus a number of advances from Europe, it was obvious it would take something rather special to entice Alex Ferguson away from his beloved Aberdeen. Manchester United are that special and when they dispensed with the services of Ron Atkinson on Thursday there was never any doubt that Ferguson would be able to resist the temptation of joining one of the truly great names of world football.

“So keen was Ferguson that he agreed to become United's seventh manager since the retirement of Sir Matt Busby in 1970 without bothering to inquire what salary he could expect to earn at Old Trafford. 'I remember the late Jock Stein telling me he always regretted turning down the chance to manage United when he was offered the job,' said Ferguson, after settling into his oak-panelled office at Old Trafford. 'It's the only job in football which would have taken me away from Aberdeen, so you could say I'm both heartbroken to leave Scotland but as excited as a teenager to be joining the biggest club in football.'”