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Ferguson's fortunes

Martin Tyler looks back on Sir Alex Ferguson's amazing career

Martin Tyler - Martin Tyler Posted 8th May 2013 view comments

Sir Alex Ferguson will be looked upon as the greatest manager of all time.

Whether you look in terms of length of years, trophies that have been won in all sorts of circumstances, building and rebuilding teams... it's a fantastic achievement.

He's been great fun to be around; he can be a bit spiky sometimes as we all know - and I've had one or two brushes with him in that respect, but by and large he's extremely warm-hearted, he's a very generous person away from football and he gives time freely to good causes.

Ferguson: has called time at Old Trafford

Ferguson: has called time at Old Trafford

He's going to have more of that time now and I can only wish him a happy retirement and say thanks to him for all he has done for football, not just for Manchester United. He has driven football to levels that we in this country, whether you support United or not, have got to be grateful for.

As a manager you've got to be prepared to lose games to win them and his teams have been great counter-attacking teams. They've turned defending into goals by speed of players moving forward; Giggs and Kanchelskis at the beginning of it all and other player more recently.

He's shown how to manage matches and win matches. Sometimes you can have good players, but it's about getting across the line. Alex Ferguson's teams don't lose from being 2-1 up.

His great optimism and passion must be fantastic for the players that play for him, but they must be fearful as well because he's so demanding. His desire for victory is unrelenting.

To cut it off now I guess is the only way he can do it. You can't wind it down; it's all or nothing and he's been "all" for Manchester United for 26-and-a-half years.

Martin dedicated a column to Sir Alex Ferguson in 2011 around the time of his 25th anniversary at Manchester United. Read on for an updated version with some fascinating facts and figures from his career...

During Sir Alex Ferguson's years at Manchester United, which is the lowest league position he had attained and what years? And how many times did he go the whole season without any single trophy? Tee Suleiman (Arsenal fan)

MARTIN SAYS: Manchester United's lowest league position under Sir Alex Ferguson was the 13th place he achieved in 1989/90. In the Premier League era, his lowest league placing is third (2003/04 and 2004/05).

There are only five seasons in which he has not picked up any silverware at all; his first three seasons and then in 2001/02 and 2004/05. However, in 1994/95,1997/98 and 2011/12 his only trophy came in the form of the Charity / Community Shield and it's a matter of debate whether that should count, much like the European Super Cup. I don't have a definitive view, so I shall list his achievements and let you judge for yourselves.

SeasonLeagueFA CupLeague CupEuropeOther
1986/8711th4th Round3rd Round
1987/882nd5th Round5th Round
1988/8911th6th Round3rd Round
1989/9013thWinners3rd Round
1990/916th5th RoundFinalistsECWC WinnersCharity Shield Winners
1991/922nd4th RoundWinnersECWC 2nd Round
Super Cup winners
1992/931st5th Round3rd RoundUEFA Cup 1st Round
1993/941stWinnersFinalistsCL Second RoundCharity Shield Winners
1994/952ndFinalists3rd RoundCL Group StageCharity Shield Winners
1995/961stWinners2nd RoundUEFA Cup 1st Round
1996/971st4th Round4th RoundCL Semi-FinalistsCharity Shield Winners
1997/982nd5th Round3rd RoundCL Quarter-FinalistsCharity Shield Winners
1998/991stWinners5th RoundCL WinnersCharity Shield Losers
1999/001stDid not enter3rd RoundCL Quarter-Finalists
Super Cup Losers
Inter-Continental Club Cup Winners
Club World Cup group stage
Charity Shield Losers
2000/011st4th Round4th RoundCL Quarter-FinalistsCharity Shield Losers
2001/023rd4th Round3rd RoundCL Semi-FinalistsCharity Shield Losers
2002/031st5th RoundFinalistsCL Quarter-Finalists
2003/043rdWinners4th RoundCL Second RoundCharity Shield Winners
2004/053rdFinalistsSemi-FinalsCL Second RoundCharity Shield Losers
2005/062nd5th RoundWinnersCL Group Stage
2006/071stFinalists4th RoundCL Semi-Finalists
2007/081st6th Round3rd RoundCL WinnersCharity Shield Losers
2008/091stSemi-FinalWinnersCL Finalists
Super Cup Losers
Club World Cup winners
Charity Shield Winners
2009/102nd3rd RoundWinnersCL Quarter-FinalistsCharity Shield Losers
2010/111stSemi-Final5th RoundCL FinalistsCharity Shield Winners
2011/122nd4th round5th RoundCL group stage
Europa League Round of 16
Charity Shield Winners
2012/131stQuarter-finals4th RoundCL Round of 16

Dear Martin. I'd be interested to find out which player has played the most games under Sir Alex and also who has scored the most goals during his 25 years? Laurence Collings (Manchester United fan)

MARTIN SAYS: Ryan Giggs has made 885 appearances under Sir Alex Ferguson in all competitions, which is more than 200 more appearances more than the next man on the list, Paul Scholes. He has more appearances than any other player in the history of the club. Here is the top 10, which narrowly excludes John O'Shea who needed just one more appearance to make the top 10!

Most Man Utd appearances under Ferguson (all comps):

1. Ryan Giggs (939)
2. Paul Scholes (728)
3. Gary Neville (602)
4. Denis Irwin (529)
5. Roy Keane (480)
6. Brian McClair (471)
7. Gary Pallister (437)
8. Steve Bruce (414)
9. Peter Schmeichel (398)
10. David Beckham (394)

In terms of goals, Wayne Rooney is just two shy of scoring 200 goals under Ferguson - and could complete that landmark by the end of this season:

Most Manchester United goals under Ferguson (all competitions):

1. Wayne Rooney (198)
2. Ryan Giggs (168)
3. Paul Scholes (155)
4. Ruud van Nistelrooy (150)
5. Brian McClair (127)
6. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (126)
7. Andy Cole (121)
8. Cristiano Ronaldo (118)
9. Mark Hughes (116)
10. David Beckham (85)

Of all the city managers during Sir Alex's reign at United, how many have beaten him in a Manchester Derby? Ian Wilkinson (Manchester Utd fan)

MARTIN SAYS: He has faced 12 Manchester City managers during his 25 years at the helm and five of those have managed to beat him. Kevin Keegan and Sven-Goran Eriksson both did it twice, while Roberto Mancini is the only Man City boss to get the better of him on more than three occasions in all competitions.

Ferguson's record v Man City managers (all competitions):

V Jimmy Frizzell: P2 W2 D0 L0 F3 A0

V Mel Machin: P1 W0 D0 L1 F5 A1

V Howard Kendall: P2 W0 D2 L0 F4 A4

V Peter Reid: P5 W2 D3 L0 F5 A3

V Brian Horton: P4 W4 D0 L0 F13 A2

V Alan Ball: P3 W3 D0 L0 F6 A3

V Joe Royle: P2 W1 D1 L0 F2 A1

V Kevin Keegan: P7 W3 D2 L2 F12 A11

V Stuart Pearce: P4 W2 D1 L1 F6 A5

V Sven-Goran Eriksson: P2 W0 D0 L2 F1 A3

V Mark Hughes: P3 W3 D0 L0 F7 A3

V Roberto Mancini: P12 W6 D1 L5 F18 A20

Hi Martin. Your column is the most informative in the football world. Congrats on that. I wanted to know who Sir Alex's toughest Premier League opponent has been in his tenure. Which manager has had the most success against Sir Alex? Patricio in Mozambique

MARTIN SAYS: Opta have given us the stats on his record against other managers in the Premier League era (since 1992/93). In that period, there are two men who boast 100% league records over him. One is Sven-Goran Eriksson, who won both Manchester derbies when he was at Manchester City. The other, surprisingly, is Stuart Gray who won his only match against Ferguson as Southampton boss in May 2001.

Managers with a win% above 50% against Sir Alex Ferguson in the Premier League:

Sven-Göran Eriksson2200100%
Stuart Gray1100100%
Carlo Ancelotti430175%
José Mourinho632150%
Bruce Rioch210150%
David Merrington210150%
Nigel Worthington210150%

At the opposite end of the spectrum are a number of managers who have faced Ferguson and yet never won a game. Those with the longest runs without a win against him include:

1. Steve Bruce (0 wins in 16 games)
2. David O'Leary (0 wins in 14 games)
3. Tony Pulis (0 wins in 10 games)
4. John Gregory, Paul Jewell, Walter Smith (0 wins in 8 games)
5. David Pleat, Steve Coppell, (0 wins in 7 games)

In 2011, Sir Alex fielded a side I believe against Tottenham which was the second youngest under him. I want to know the youngest side he ever fielded in the Premier League. Sushant Kshirsagar (Manchester Utd fan)

MARTIN SAYS: The game to which you refer in August 2011 against Tottenham was a side with an average age of 23yrs, 230days:

D de Gea, P Evra, J Evans, C Smalling, P Jones, A Young, Anderson, Nani, T Cleverley, W Rooney, D Welbeck

However, the youngest team he has ever fielded in a Premier League match was in a 1-0 win against Hull on May 24 2009, just before the 2009 Champions League Final. This team had an average age of 23yrs, 183 days:

T Kuszczak, Rafael Da Silva, G Neville, W Brown, R de Laet, Nani, D Fletcher, D Gibson, D Welbeck, L Martin, F Macheda

Out of interest, the oldest team he has fielded in a Premier League game was the side he fielded in the 2-1 defeat to Chelsea on April 3, 2010, which had an average age of 31years, 111 days:

E van der Sar, P Evra, N Vidic, G Neville , R Ferdinand, J-S Park, D Fletcher, L Valencia, R Giggs, P Scholes, D Berbatov


One of the things often asked is what is Manchester United's favourite ground apart from Old Trafford? I always say Villa Park. Not only do they have a strong record against Villa in league and cup, but they are also unbeaten in FA Cup semi-finals at Villa Park under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Here is their record on that ground, which reads like a home record!

League Record at Villa Park: P26 W14 D9 L3 F36 A21

Cup Record v Villa at Villa Park: P5 W3 D0 L2 F7 A7

Cup record v other teams semi-finals at Villa Park: P7 W5 D2 L0 F13 A5

Overall: P38 W22 D11 L5 F56 A33

Tyler's teaser

Why not have a go at our latest Tyler's Teaser - themed around players that have played under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Comments (2)

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Enzo Fotellulio (Leeds United fan) says...

Hi Martin, i would like to know, during his premier league reign, how many different managers has Alex Ferguson faced? there have been a lot of clubs having more then one manager in a season let alone in a year. Love reading your articles.

Posted 14:11 8th May 2013

Marc Harris (Aston Villa fan) says...

If he likes Villa Park so much i'm sure we could accomadate him as Lambert's mentor for a couple of seasons. C'mon Fergie C'mon

Posted 11:19 8th May 2013

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