On the 8th of May 2013, Sir Alex Ferguson announced his decision to retire after having managed Manchester United for 26 years. Fans were dismayed to see the man who had brought them 38 trophies, including 13 league titles and 2 Champions League titles, leave the club so unexpectedly. Six years and four managers later, Ferguson’s former protege, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, is showing his former boss’ spirit and vision is very well alive at Old Trafford.
From the coaching staff, squad, academy and style of play, Ferguson’s legacy is all over the place.
Let’s start with the coaching staff. Current interim manager Solskjaer, then a fairly unknown player, was brought to Manchester United from Molde in 1996. When he retired in 2007 after a trophy laden spell at United, he was known as the baby-faced assassin, renowned for his goal scoring abilities.
Two of Solskjaer’s current assistants were also brought in by Ferguson. Michael Carrick was signed from Spurs in 2006 to replace talismanic captain Roy Keane and retired after a long, stellar career at Old Trafford. He immediately joined Jose Mourinho’s staff and stayed on under Solskjaer.
The final piece of the jigsaw is a familiar face for United fans: Mike Phelan. He played for United from 89 to 94, coming back in 2001 to work in the academy.
In 2008, Phelan replaced Carlos Queiroz as Ferguson’s assistant. He left the club shortly after Ferguson retired, even though the latter advised his successor David Moyes to keep Phelan in his coaching staff to assure a smooth transition. After things blew up in Moyes’ face and a couple more managers were appointed in vain, Solskjaer’s appointment as manager brought back Mike Phelan’s calming presence on the United touchline.
Three of the four men who are currently managing the United team are Ferguson’s men through and through and are ensuring their mentor’s philosophy is kept intact.
United have spent quite a few millions of pounds on players since Ferguson left. Each manager brought his own ideas and thus spent astronomical figures bringing in players who fit their philosophy. With all the ins and outs over six years, it’s astonishing that Ferguson is the one who brought most of the top performers at the club.
See also: David De Gea is the Messi of goalkeepers
David De Gea and Paul Pogba are arguably the only two world class players United currently have in their squad. Smalling, Jones, Valencia, Young, Lingard and Andreas were all also brought in by Ferguson. Seven out of those eight players have been regulars in recent years at Old Trafford. If Andreas can take his chance in the last few games of this season, he may well go on to have a great career at the club too.
Part of Sir Alex’s vision at the club was to have an academy which would develop talent for the first team on a regular basis. He famously unleashed the class of 92 on the Premier League early in his career, leading to the club claiming the treble in 1999. Some of those players retired from United while Ferguson was still manager while Ryan Giggs managed to stay on even after he was gone.
United’s academy still produces top quality talent. In 2017/2018, United had twenty home-grown players in the EPL playing at various clubs – far more than their domestic and European rivals [Source].
Scott McTominay and Marcus Rashford, United current number one striker, were both hatched from the academy after Ferguson’s retirement and are already key elements of the first team. Joel Pereira, Axel Tuanzebe and Fosu-Mensah are currently on loan and the next academy prospects knocking on the first team’s door. Pereira and Tuanzebe have already earned rave reviews from ex-manager Mourinho, who is a man from which praise is hard to come.
Angel Gomes, dubbed the next big thing to come out of Carrington, and Tahith Chong are other names which come to mind. Along with James Garner, they recently have been involved with the first team.
Solskjaer could soon have his own class of 92 to fuel his Manchester United revolution. All this was made possible because of the visionary ground work done by Sir Alex Ferguson many years ago.
Sir Alex is not only present in the VIP section for games at Old Trafford but his imprint is all over the club.
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