I love sports. A thousand years ago I used to play a lot of it. Nowadays I enjoy watching the odd live game. My big passion is soccer but I have an appreciation of almost any discipline which requires skill and dedication. For goodness sake I am even hooked on the McCoy’s Premier League darts at the moment. And have you seen those dudes doing curling? Where they glide next to a sliding thingamabob with what looks like broomsticks and they clear the way? It’s hysterical.
But back to my point. One could argue that in the last few days one man has grabbed world headlines above all other matters (including Justin Bieber). Sir Alex Ferguson’s resignation and the subsequent events surrounding this have been mind boggling. Now let me say this straight up – I am and always have been a staunch United supporter, from as far back as I can remember. And even in the dark days when they were relegated back in ’74 I stuck with them through thick and thin – as did millions around the world no doubt. It is claimed that there were more tweets about his resignation in a period of time than there was for Maggie Thatcher’s death. Love him or hate him the man is a newsmaker.
But for me it’s not about how many trophies he won with Man United. When I read the stats and I look at the performance over 26 years, there is one thing that stands out for me – consistency. And oh my, if only our government and many businesses (especially state-owned ones) would get this point. A winning culture does not just happen. There are forces which drive this behaviour. In Fergie’s armoury this includes tenacity, a fierce will to win, a no-nonsense approach and the ability to spot and then coax the best out of raw talent. And of course there is honesty.
The ability to make decisions and to stick with them. Not for your own self gain but in the interests of (in his case) the club. Dealing with multi-millionaire players can’t be easy. Just like dealing with executives or politicians who think they are better than everyone and therefore untouchable.
To give you an example of the consistency I referred to earlier, consider this: Between 1991-92 and 2012-13 his team was crowned Champions 13 times, were runners up six times and came third three times. When comparing his leadership to other European club managers, the club won 31 trophies in Europe and England as did Bayern Munich. The only difference? Bayern did it under 15 different managers.
Of course there are many who will criticise him, by saying: he is a bully. He is a timekeeper. He intimidates referees, and more. No one becomes that successful without some warts. He just chooses to display them – it’s part of the job when you are in front of millions week in and week out.
And I respect everyone’s opinion, even my Liverpool mates. But the bottom line is – he delivers. And there is a sense of humour and humility to go with those warts. So, this is my tribute to a man who I have respected and admired for all the time he has been in charge at the Theatre of Dreams. The respect he was shown at his final appearance yesterday was quite extraordinary and I’m sure brought a sheen to many eyes, including mine.
Now if only we could import whatever madness he possesses to help us run our country!
Keep dancing Sir Alex.