Sir Alex @25: You can win anything with kids
The greatness of Sir Alex Ferguson astonishes me every single time I sit to even think about the man and what he has achieved. I have always felt that he was not just one of the greatest managers in football but one of the greatest achievers in any form of life. In an attempt to dissect his greatness on the eve of his 25th anniversary at Old Trafford, I started to write this.
Everlasting Hunger and Passion:
One of the most endearing things about Sir Alex is his passion towards winning. I have never seen anyone as passionate about the game as he is (probably Jose Mourinho is the closest to him). There is a certain sense of aura and passion with him during every game. It doesn't make a difference to him whether it is against Bradford in FA Cup first round or it is Barcelona in the Champions League final. It's about the game and how his players play the game. At the age of 70, 25 years into his managerial career at United, he still has the hunger and passion to push day in day out in order to motivate the next batch of youngsters at United to glory. One of the most remarkable traits of Ferguson is his ability to evolve himself and his teams at various point of his tenure at Old Trafford.
Building and Rebuilding young teams:
It started with the era of Steve Bruce, Brian Robson and Cantona; then came the great youth team quartet of Beckham, Scholes, Neville and Giggs; then the Cristiano Ronaldo era. The list would be endless if one includes the rest of the amazing players that have come through the ranks at Old Trafford. Ferguson has the uncanny knack of rebuilding teams when he feels that the stars are past their best. The forte of Fergie has been his ability to judge the shell life of a player. He has the ability to take an objective call on their futures (he famously didn't allow his son to make it to the Reserves team since he felt he was not good enough) and he had the vision to bring about fresh faces who had even more desire than the previous generation. He does this every single time to perfection in a maddening world of competitive football. Since he is not someone who is a legend as a player who has played the game, people sometimes underestimate his greatness, I beg to differ on this.
Motivating youngsters to perform forever:
An individual victory is something that is in our hands. On the other hand, inspiring a bunch of young people to perform as a team over a period of time is not in our hands. It is a Herculean task considering the various human personalities that one has to deal with while trying to motivate them. The act of inspiring generations of young players to perform at the highest level is a tremendous achievement in any field for that matter. As such, the fete of Ferguson of inspiring young people to win for such a long period of time is the epitome of his greatness.2
The other side of Fergie:
The constant criticism of Ferguson is that he is arrogant and ruthless. He is known to have a steely resolve and doesn't budge a single bit. Ask Beckham, Stam, Nistelrooy and even Alan Shearer in his early days. His no holds barred attitude with journalists and some players has always projected a very arrogant side of his personality. While I agree that he does have such a side, I also feel that there are two aspects to it. One, this steely resolve is also the same attribute which has helped him stay for such a long time. Secondly, he is human after all, so he does have some flaws and these are just one of them. In comparison to the magnitude of his achievements, his flaws may not be as glaring as what people make out to be.
Irrespective of all this, no one can deny the place that Ferguson has in the history books. No one can deny that he is one of the greatest leaders of any generation. No one can also deny that there has never been a more hungry, passionate, ruthless and inspiring manager in modern history. No one can also deny that he has proven "You can win anything with kids", a perfect antidote to Alan Hansen's famous quote.
To put things in perspective, Sir Alex made his managerial debut four years before Sachin Tendulkar made his Test debut and is still going strong
Sir Alex @25: RESPECT!!
(The author can be reached on his Facebook page)
More about Sriram Balasubramanian
Sriram Balasubramanian is a Journalist, voracious reader, avid Blogger, social enthusiast and a believer in excellence not mediocrity. With an inherent passion towards journalism and writing, he believes in playing the "Straight Drive" all the time. Besides this, he has a MS in Engineering Management and has played Chess for Singapore.
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