May 8, 2013, 11:26 AM EDT
There are hundreds and hundreds to sift through, because quite simply, Manchester United have so many wonderful moments with Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm.
But there have also been some pretty hairy times in his early days at Old Trafford, with United close to relegation and Ferguson under intense pressure just a few years into the job. Good thing they kept hold of the wily old Scot!
So let’s take a look back at some of the defining moments of Sir Alex’s United career.
7 January 1990, Win or bust, Robins saves Fergie: Many people believe this was the game that saved Ferguson’s career as United manager. Mark Robins scored to take United through to the fourth round of the FA Cup at Nottingham Forest, and they went on to win the trophy — Fergie’s first title. The team had not won since the previous November and fans were calling for Ferguson to be fired. Onwards and upwards from here.
2 May 1993, Cantona sparks United’s resurgence: Ferguson produced one his best ever pieces of business, as he signed Frenchman Eric Cantona for £1.2 million from Leeds United. After he arrived United surged from tenth in the table to win their first league title in 26 years. The Frenchman would go on to captain the club and become a legend with United fans.
5 May 1996, You won’t win anything with kids…: Despite successful seasons with a group of experienced professionals, Ferguson took what was deemed a huge risk by many, as he sold Mark Hughes, Paul Ince and Anrei Kanchelskis and replaced them with youngsters such as David Beckham, Paul Scholes and the Neville brothers. His decision paid off, big time, as United secured their third title in four seasons… with a bunch of kids.
26 May 1999, United complete historic treble: Perhaps the crowning moment in Ferguson’s era as United manager, most soccer fans can recall what they were doing and where they were as the Red Devils completed one of the most spectacular comebacks in European history. Two stoppage-time goals secured the UEFA Champions League crown, Ferguson said afterwards, “football… bloody hell.” The European Cup success also capped a stunning treble as United performed the clean sweep of EPL, FA Cup and Champions League titles.
4 February 2002, Fergie calls it quits…then U-turns: It could have all been over a long time ago, as Ferguson announced he would retire at the end of the 2001-02 season. But his United side failed miserably in that campaign, tailing away massively in the second half of the season and, well, Fergie couldn’t go out like that could he? He reversed his decision and the rest, as they say, is history.
21 May 2008, More Champions League success: Ferguson won his second Champions League trophy, after United defeated Chelsea on penalties in Moscow. The Scotsman was delighted to replicate the teams triumph in 1999, as more success on the European stage had always been Fergie’s aim. Many believed after this trophy he may step down, but his desire to lead United onto more success never wavered.
14 May 2011, United break record, overtake Liverpool for 19th title: Now we know Manchester United have 20 English League titles to their name, but Ferguson was desperate to get to 19 and “knock Liverpool off their perch.” The Red Devils’ closest rivals held the record for the most league titles… but not anymore. A 1-0 victory at Blackburn Rovers, courtesy of a Wayne Rooney penalty, sealed the 19 championships, 12 of which came during Ferguson’s tenure.
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