Sir Alex Ferguson: 10 Things Managers Can Learn from Manchester United's Master

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Sir Alex Ferguson: 10 Things Managers Can Learn from Manchester United's Master
Ian Walton/Getty Images

Who is the greatest football manager of all time?

That's like asking who is the best footballer of all time. Right now, there is a growing appreciation of Lionel Messi, but in their day Pele or George Best were every bit as good.

And why is it always the creators or goalscorers? What about Paolo Maldini, Lev Yashin or Peter Schmeichel?

The game is different now. I can go back 57 years with a clear memory. How can you compare Ronaldo or Messi to Tom Finney or Sir Stanley Matthews, when the latter had to play with a football like a pudding when it was wet, that didn't fly or swerve like the modern balls do? Kicking it could break your toe!

So what about Gento, Di Stefano or Puskas, who could make that pudding talk?

But when it comes to comparing managers, there is absolutely no doubt that the modern game—especially in the Premiership—is the toughest it has ever been for managers.

And here is a fundamental point. I'm talking here about managers, not coaches. In Europe, most clubs employ a coach. The role of Director of Football has come out of Europe; Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City have one. 

Manchester United have a manager, who does everything. Bill Nicholson at Spurs was a coach, way ahead of his time, as was Walter Winterbottom. Sir Alf Ramsey was a manager.

Sir Matt Busby was a manager; he had Jimmy Murphy as his coach. Busby bought and developed the players; chose the team and the tactics; sheltered the team from criticism; and dealt with other external matters, from media to the owners (and even the FA, who he took on when he decided to take United into Europe).

Sir Alex Ferguson is very much a manager in the Matt Busby mold. He may be the last of his generation and, in my opinion, he is the greatest football manager ever.

Some are born great, and some have greatness thrust upon them. Mozart was born great. Sir Bobby Robson had to graft for everything he got in life and everything he achieved. So did Sir Alex. But Sir Alex had huge self-belief, tempered by generosity and humility.

The pressures in the Premier League are far greater than any other league in the world. There is more money involved; the competition is tougher, from top to bottom (on their day any team can win); there is far more blending between home-grown and bought, British and foreign. And managers have to do far more.

So if you accept that premise, Sir Alex must be the best. Better than Shankly, Paisley and Busby, who were also Scottish.

Here, in reviewing the many things that other managers can learn from Sir Alex—the greatest manager of all-time—we also get an insight into what makes him great.

I don't expect you to agree with everything and would welcome any other suggestions as to what other managers can learn from him.

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