Maybe this article isn’t best suited to those who aren’t very fond of Manchester United or Sir Alex Ferguson, but I hope it still provides for a good read for other fans or the general football fan. That is because in some way or another, we have all been affected by moments that were the result of Sir Alex Ferguson’s doing, as he finally approaches his deserved and awaited retirement.
For many, such as myself, we have experienced football with one man seen as the real leader — the standout individual. I’m not bringing down the likes of Arsene Wenger , but Ferguson has simply been the example, the almost flawless of managers at times.
One of the most applauded of Ferguson’s traits was to devise various squads over the years. They have been full of quality and charisma, and have led to plenty of magical football memories. They go beyond the footballing sphere of memories too, and will always be a marker that I will remember when I look back onto the past two or so decades in history.
Ferguson was always one for bringing in talent, but he also seemed to sway towards those magicians of sport, the ones who truly get you off your seat to take notice.
I wasn’t fortunate enough to consciously experience the days of Eric Cantona, but I can certainly use him as a key example. He didn’t have just class, but a confidence to pull of the spectacular. Even as Wayne Rooney‘s time at the club turns sour, I can only thank Ferguson for managing to bring Rooney to the club as an 18-year-old and nurture him to greatness.
I remember his debut and just literally thinking that it was just so perfect, almost fairy tale-like. A hat-trick on your Manchester United debut in the Champions League at 18. Nearly a decade on, and I was left in shock, questioning if what I saw was even real as an overhead kick sent United on their way to a 19th title.
I’m sure others can pick their memorable performances. Need I even explain 1999, when the ‘Impossible Dream’ really was made a reality, taken from a mere vision to an example of achieving true greatness.
And I’d expect, I’m not wrong in admitting that others have been slightly more low-key memories, but are still personally close. I can vividly remember the 7-1 thumping that Roma received back in 2007. When Alan Smith scored the first, I went quite literally mental; Ferguson had created such a sense of belief that United could turn around the aggregate score that they would go onto serve up a lashing.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Rooney were on absolute peak form. And yet the more I describe these memories, the more they link together. Ronaldo — what more do I need to say? A debut season FA Cup final lesson for Millwall stands out initially and that would grow into something truly spectacular.
But we know it’s not just about the United memories. The respect that fans of other clubs have given to Ferguson this week stems as much from observing United’s triumphs as it does from being on the wrong end of the Ferguson’s powers.
I imagine ‘Fergie Time’ is one of the most painful. How many clubs have witnessed points being dropped as a United side have clawed their way back in the dying seconds? Yes, it has been a bit of stopwatch negligence, but in essence it is that never-say-die attitude that Ferguson quite literally instilled in the club’s ethos.
The question is really, are these memories going to be a thing of the past soon?
It’s sad, for United fans anyway, that these obsessive features of English football such as “Fergie time” and “The Hairdryer” that many of the media have experienced may now be gone forever — just memories. But I can only thank Ferguson for these memories; as they have been truly special.
From the home-grown heroes which Ferguson decided was so important, to the nights such as rainy Moscow and the brilliant managerial clashes with Wenger and Jose Mourinho, these are memories that will always be looked back on with true fondness.
It is more than just an end of an era at one club — it is the end of an era in football, one that will leave memories one way or another, for all.