Alex Ferguson is a polarizing figure in modern football. As a general rule, one either loves or despises the 67-year-old Scottish manager. His success is undeniable, but his controversial ways often overshadow his accomplishments.
After a decent career as a player from 1957-1974, Alex Ferguson took up the management reigns of East Stirlingshire at the tender age of 32. Although his only experience was from Falkirk where he was player-coach from 1972-1973, the young Ferguson immediately took charge of the club dressing room.
Moving quickly through the managerial ranks, Ferguson secured a move to St. Mirren just a few months after taking over East Stirlingshire. Although the side was lower in the Second Division, it was a bigger club and Ferguson was able to take them to a First Division championship by 1977, despite having an average squad age of around 20 years old.
The managerial plaudits continued for Ferguson, and he saw further success following his move to Aberdeen. The club excelled both in Scotland and in Europe, winning the European Cup, the first victory by a Scottish side in the competition.
Ferguson moved to his current post at Manchester United in 1986, making such inspired signings as Steve Bruce, Brian McLair, and Viv Anderson. In the 1987-'88 season, United finished a respectable second place in the league, nine points behind Liverpool.
Despite undergoing a dark period over the next few seasons, Ferguson was able to secure his first major trophy as United manager when his side defeated Crystal Palace in the 1990 FA Cup final.
Ferguson established his basis of developing young talent alongside proven professionals, much to the derision of pundits and critics of his style.
In subsequent years, Ferguson went on to win a boatload of trophies, including becoming the first manager to ever lead an English team to the treble of League, FA Cup and Champions League during the 1998-1999 season.
With all of Ferguson's success, controversy has followed directly behind. He has oft been criticized for his propensity for violent bursts of anger and his staunch refusal to compromise.
A number of incidents have marred Ferguson's image, including fining John Hewitt for passing him in his vehicle on a public road, kicking a container of tea at his players during halftime, and kicking a boot at David Beckham's head in the locker room.
Despite the controversy, the fact remains that Ferguson has been magnificent over his career. Not only has he had extensive club success, but he has developed a number of world-class players.
Names such as David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and the hugely controversial Cristiano Ronaldo immediately come to mind, but over his career, Ferguson has cultivated scores of talented youngsters.
I believe that even at the venerable age of 67, Alex Ferguson is the finest manager in the game. His track record over time is unmatched, and his imprint is all throughout English and world football. If not the greatest of all time, Ferguson is absolutely even at the top with whomever may challenge him.