How Dare We? Sir Alex Ferguson: a correction and a tribute

Jake suspects a fondness for making mischief
Jake suspects a fondness for making mischief
Salut! Sunderland, in common with other corners of the world of communication, may have given the impression in past coverage of Manchester United that it regards Sir Alex Ferguson as an ill-tempered, boorish bully who considers football a game to be played according exclusively to his rules, his timekeeping, his interpretation of a handsomely rewarded manager’s duty to talk to the public via the media and his preferences as to the outcome of all matches or competitions.

This, we now acknowledge, was an unjust and irrational assessment.

Far from possessing the least hint of an unworthy, unsportsmanlike philosophy, Sir Alex is a genius, the irreplaceable doyen of his trade and as generous and warm-spirited a human being as you are likely to encounter.

In recognition of the misleading and indefensible nature of past references to him, we have agreed to pay an appropriate sum, expressed in terms of a free Salut! Sunderland mug with its own special design, and this will be commissioned and then dispatched to Sir Alex as soon as he writes in to claim it.

Sir Alex is down to £6.38***
Sir Alex is down to anything from 60p to under £7 via the Salut! Sunderland link***

Fact is that we believed much of that all along. Whatever reservation can fairly be held on matters of style, the substance speaks volumes for itself. Sir Alex is indeed a football manager whose record makes outstanding seem an inadequate adjective.

Not all non-Manchester United supporters hate Man Utd. As a boy, I cried when my mother told me the plane had crashed. I nearly cried again when Bolton Wanderers refused to accept the fairytale script and allow the survivors to win the cup. When United play in Europe, I want them to win. There is no need to make excuses or apologies to the babyish sections of MUFC support that decided to loathe Sunderland because of some harmless banter at the end of last season; when they win the league or domestic cups, I am happy to applaud.

And the constant factor in all the successes of the past quarter of a century – two Champions League triumphs, 13 Premier League titles and the FA Cup five times – has been Sir Alex, the manager for 27 years. That it might have been a reign lasting many fewer years, so close was he to being fired before winning his first trophy in 1990, is a sobering reminder of the fickle nature of football even then.

Salut! Sunderland
, or this part of it, wishes therefore to withdraw the sarky start to this edition of How Dare We? marking his retirement at 71, pay generous tribute to one of the few figures of any sport to merit the term “legend” and express the hope that he enjoys a long and happy retirement with as much fine Burgundy and racehorsing pleasure as any man can fit into life.

1973 May 5See all Salut! Sunderland’s articles recalling May 5 1973 and the run that took SAFC to FA Cup glory:

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And follow us on Twitter: @salutsunderland … click along this line

But we leave the last word of this article to a Manchester United supporter, Dom Raynor, editor of, in his excellent Who Are You? interview prior to the recent SAFC v MUFC game.

Q: Looking at SAF’s record, the footballing achievements are outstanding and the passion, even at the age he has reached, beyond question. Do you simply overlook the boorishness we also see in him as a price worth paying for his genius?

A: Everything he does is well calculated and so the pokes and jibes and boorishness are all part of the package that makes Manchester United a success. But he can also play it the other way and one of his most masterful performances was the press conference after Wayne Rooney handed in his transfer request when Fergie appeared shocked a dewy-eyed… Rooney signed a new deal shortly after. The success Fergie brings enables us the fans to overlook many things, but sometimes I have to laugh, as some of the utterances he comes out with are so ridiculous that even he must wince when saying them. However, I would hazard a guess that all the critics who claim they can’t stand Fergie would have him as manager of their club in a second, particularly if they could roll back the clock.

Monsieur Salut, by Matt
Monsieur Salut, by Matt

** Life With Sir Alex: buy it or anything else you need via the Salut! Sunderland Amazon link, Saves you, helps the site pay the bills …. go to and navigate from there

12 thoughts on “How Dare We? Sir Alex Ferguson: a correction and a tribute”

  1. Never seen so many thumbs downs…..that’s Fergie for you…..divisive to the end. Rooney wants out……are the two announcements linked? Who will EFC get to replace Moyes?…..Martinez after Wigan are relegated would be a good call

  2. Just as a side note, – I think a lot of Prem referees will be glad to see the back of him.

  3. Probably the best manager in the history of the English club game.
    But, Man U gave Sir Alex a LOT of time to find success. He went years without winning anything and could have seen the exit door once or twice.

    Certainly if a young Alex Fergusson took the helm now of, lets say, Chelsea, he would last about a year before being sacked by the owner for not doing so well.
    Or, if he took control of Newcastle or a Man City, perhaps the owners would not have so much patience and he’d be gone. Look at what happened to Chris Houghton for example at Ncle.

    Just shows you that Alex Fergusson rewarded the patience of Man U. That was a different era with a different mentality.

  4. Is this about Fergie or MUFC? Comparing their debt with China seems odd as it was hardly down to Fergie. Financially he has got more transfers right than wrong. Veron is the one dodgy deal that springs to mind. Too many people involved in footie are bland. He’ll be missed. For me Cloughie is the greatest ever ….. doing it twice with smaller clubs. Will there be a film about Fergie?

  5. Will always be grateful for the way United tracked down the Mags in 1996.The rant by an under pressure Keegan stands as great tribute to Sir Alex’s cunning.Loved it,I really loved it.

  6. He was and is a winner, did great things for Manchester United, brought on young British players and will never be forgotten.

    However, not all winners will be remembered positively, think Lance Armstrong. I am not making a direct comparison, but I never have liked Ferguson. I read the book “The Boss” by Michael Crick, and it details the unacceptable side of Ferguson. The intimidation, the threats, the bullying of players, who he would sell like a piece of meat if they fell out with him. After reading that I decided I did not like the guy.

    Sunderland gained from his loan deals and sales of players when Roy Keane and Steve Bruce were in charge; Welbeck and Evans, Bardsley and O’Shea to name a few, but overall I am tempted to the game will be fairer, less bitchy and overall better off without him on the touchline.

  7. An excellent manager, and probably the best there has ever been in the domestic game. Unlikeable, obnoxious and ungracious though and not particularly popular away from Old Trafford. His attitude has led to a begrudging acknowledgement of his unprecedented achievements. He conquered Europe twice and has to be commended for that.

  8. Was never a great admirer of him but after reading a book on his life over 20 years ago ( and he’s done a bit since then) warmed to the Guy, played Amateur Football then to Rangers, ran Pubs in Glasgow before re-entering game Coaching then Managing. But the mark of the Man was dropping his boycott of the BBC to present Sir Bobby Robson on Sports Personality of the Year with his Lifetime Achievement Award because he respected Sir Bobby so much. As a Sunderland Supporter in my 46th year of attending matches it brought a lump to my throat

  9. The best that there has ever been – if I wasn’t lucky enough to have been born in Sunderland and therefore fated to be a Sunderland Supporter I would be a United supporter.

  10. A corporate giant with a football club fastened to the side.
    Destroyer of the F.A.cup.
    The strange case of David Bellion(Nepotistic greed,some say)but not me,no Siree.
    Occasionally best in a league of three teams.
    More debt than Russia.
    Very rare visits to European capitals in May.
    No cheap shots at the proboscis.
    I dont know where to start.

  11. Pardew for Old Trafford anyone? Or could it be David Moyes, who has not signed a deal at Goodison.
    He (Fergie) is a cantankerous old sod, but I would love to spend an evening in his company talking football. He deserves the Living Legend tag that will be hung around his neck.

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