Exploding the Myths of Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United Reign
Time does funny things to the memory.
Sir Alex Ferguson was fond of saying that fans got dewy-eyed when they remembered past United teams and, in the process, failed to give his current crop enough credit.
It was his pointing out of that, in football, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
It's something he's experiencing firsthand now that he's retired.
It doesn't help that David Moyes is still finding his feet at Old Trafford after a difficult start to life as Ferguson's replacement.
After Moyes replaced Nani with Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney with Chris Smalling against Southampton on Saturday, the radio phone-ins were inundated with calls from United fans desperate to tell the world that Ferguson would never have been that defensive.
Ferguson, they claimed, would never have made mistakes like that.
Granted, there weren't many. But, on occasion, he did.
During the run-in of the 2011/12 season, Ferguson dropped his form player, Antonio Valencia, for the trip to the Etihad Stadium to play Manchester City, the deciding game of the Premier League title race. Ji-Sung Park, who'd been absent for more than a month, played instead and was steamrolled by Yaya Toure.
It was a decision that stunned the fans.
United went on to lose the game—and the title—and at the end of the season only Valencia was lifting a trophy after cleaning up at the club's end-of-season awards.
Even with a CV that lists 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, four League Cups and two Champions Leagues, he made the odd mistake as well.
It's part of the Ferguson story that he came within a game of getting the sack in 1990.
Legend has it that if United had lost the FA Cup third-round tie with Nottingham Forest, Ferguson would have been sacked.
But Mark Robins scored THAT goal, United went on to win the trophy, and two decades of silverware followed.
But years later Bobby Charlton insisted it wasn't the pivotal moment, it seemed at the time. He's adamant that even if United had been knocked out, Ferguson would still have been around to oversee a period of unprecedented success.
Ferguson's legend will grow and grow the longer he's out of the game.
Time will forget the lows and embellish the highs.
But while Moyes struggles in the opening months of his reign, it's important to keep some perspective about the man he replaced.
Ferguson left United this summer as the most successful British manager. His record will likely never be surpassed. He transformed United from sleeping giant into a European heavyweight.
But even he wasn't flawless. Just make sure you only whisper it.
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