Fergie the best of the lot | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 16, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 16, 2011

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Fergie the best of the lot


SIR ALEX FERGUSON

Manchester United's record 19th title confirms Sir Alex Ferguson as the greatest manager in English football history, the 36th trophy of a remarkable 25-year reign at Old Trafford that may never be equalled.
While admirers of Bob Paisley will point to the 18 trophies the former Liverpool manager crammed into nine golden years at Anfield between 1974 and 1983, in terms of longevity and volume, Ferguson is in a league of his own.
Saturday's Premier League title was the 12th of Ferguson's tenure, a spell which has also included two European Champions League crowns, five FA Cups, four League Cups and the World Club Cup.
The scale of the achievement is all the more impressive when taking into account the parlous state of affairs at Old Trafford when Ferguson was appointed to replace Ron Atkinson in November 1986.
United, who had not won the league title for nearly 20 years at that point, had sunk to 19th in the table out of 22 clubs and had also been bombed out of the League Cup by Southampton.
Ferguson's rebuilding project took time. It was four long years before his first piece of silverware, the 1990 FA Cup, was nestling in the Old Trafford trophy room.
Thereafter, the honours came at a steady rate, with the 1991 European Cup Winners Cup -- secured with a memorable win over Barcelona -- followed by the 1992 League Cup before the breakthrough title triumph in 1993.
But the long list of honours is only part of the Ferguson story.
Almost as remarkable has been the Scot's relentless regeneration of United, overseeing a succession of celebrated championship-winning sides, from the Eric Cantona-inspired 1992-1993 side to the 1999 treble-winners and the frighteningly potent 2008 League and European Cup double-winners.
In a sense, United's more recent title triumphs carry more weight.
The hat-trick of league titles achieved in 2007, 2008 and 2009, followed by this season's triumph have been won in an era when United can no longer flex the biggest financial muscles in English football.
The arrival of billionaire benefactors at Chelsea and Manchester City has eclipsed United's might in the transfer market, meaning Ferguson has increasingly had to scour the world for cut-price talent.
Indeed it was United's failure to splash out last summer, at a time when Manchester City were embarking on a record transfer spree, which persuaded Wayne Rooney to agitate for a move at the start of the season.
In a typically trenchant defence of United's transfer policy however, Ferguson reminded Rooney that his track record of developing young players was second to none.
"That's the problem with potential," Ferguson reflected in October. "People don't identify potential. They're very poor at it.
"But I've identified potential all my life in young people. I know potential. I know where it can be developed. And I know how to develop it. And I have faith in it. And young people surprise you when given opportunity."
The most obvious recent example of that was United's capture of Javier Hernandez, the unheralded 22-year-old Mexican international who signed for around £7 million in April last year.
United's fans may have craved a big-name signing, but Hernandez has been the revelation of United's season, reaching 20 goals in all competitions despite not being a regular starter for much of the campaign.
The speed with which Hernandez has been assimilated, and the burgeoning promise of youngsters such as Fabio and Rafael Da Silva and Chris Smalling, suggests that United may not have to wait too long for title number 20.
RESULTS
Blackburn 1 (Emerton 20) Manchester United 1 (Rooney 73-pen)
Blackpool 4 (Campbell 9, 45, Puncheon 19, Adam 63) Bolton 3 (Davies 6, Taylor 24, Sturridge 53)
Sunderland 1 (Sessegnon 34) Wolverhampton 3 (Craddock 22, Fletcher 54, Elokobi 78)
West Brom 1 (Mulumbu 10) Everton 0
ROLL OF HONOUR
2006-07: Manchester United
2007-08: Manchester United
2008-09: Manchester United
2009-10: Chelsea
2010-11: Manchester United

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