Top 10 things that have changed while Sir Alex Ferguson has been at Manchester United
Priding ourselves on our exclusives, OTP can bring you the following breaking news: Sir Alex Ferguson has been in situ at the helm of the Red Devils for 25 years. I know, you’d have thought more would have been made of it.
To those who worship at the altar of SAF (is there a more annoying pseudonym anywhere else in the world of sport, let alone football?), the past two decades have brought more domestic and European happiness than even my Uncle Brian could account for in his 1980s D-reg caravan.
To everyone else (bar a number of wholly reasonable, not to mention logical, neutrals), it’s been an extremely elongated 20 years of pain – working on the basis that they were still turd before that Lee Martin howitzer in May 1990.
Even if you consider yourself the man’s complete antithesis (think Liverpool supporting, Tory voting, er, Englishman) there is no doubting his contribution to the rich tapestry of our noble game. But enough of all that schmaltz. My real point is this: they say that a week is a long time in politics. Whatever. If one casts even just a cursory glance in the direction of football since Taggart took up the reins, then it brings a whole new meaning to the concept of time. And to emphasise this theory, I highlight a mere handful of other footnotes recorded in the period that Govan’s finest has been at Old Trafford:
1. Wimbledon. They won the FA Cup, established themselves as a solid top flight club, folded, disappeared to Milton Keynes, reformed, started training on Uncle Bulgaria’s old stomping (or should that be cleaning) ground, and went on to establish themselves as a football league team once again. Oh and Harvey played for them. Astonishing.
2. Liverpool won the league. Twice.
3. Diving was invented in Germany. Allegedly.
4. Howard Wilkinson took charge of England twice as caretaker manager and went on to become the boss at Shanghai Shenhua in China – but not before beating Fergie to the league title in 1992 with Leeds, despite being the gaffer at Sheffield Wednesday when the Scotsman first came south. Still with me?
5. Jason Lee. Well, no nostalgic footy list is complete without the man who made one of the passes of the 90s when Frank Skinner and David Baddiel received the buck for him being cr*p.
6. Talking of passing, the backpass rule was introduced. Bejesus, that’s the one that makes you think isn’t it.
7. Gary Lineker. His Barcelona career came and went, his Grampus Eight career came and went, his toe came and went (figuratively speaking), and his Walkers Crisps adverts came and…have almost lasted as long as Ferguson himself. Go figure.
8. Paul McGrath. After Ferguson got rid of him, the genial Irishman somehow managed to become one of the most consistent players in the Premier League despite never much troubling the training ground. Well, not the pitch at least. He has since captivated us all with tales of playing ‘cooee’ with Norman Whiteside and is now launching a singing career apparently. Who knows what else this modern day miracle will accomplish before red nose finally leaves Carrington. And I didn’t even mention his drink problem. Or McGrath’s.
9. John Hollins has gone from being known as the manager of Chelsea Football Club to being known as the Dad of someone who won Strictly Come Dancing.
10. And finally, Sven Goran Eriksson has gone from being number one on the club’s list of possible replacements to number 48. Just two places behind what would be a return for Big Ron but still one above Steve Wigley.
25 years… bloody hell.