When I was young my first memories of football and a football club were of Manchester United. My elder cousin had his room papered with cut outs of Red Devil players across the ages, team shots, scarves and there wasn’t an empty space to be found. Being the influential younger brother and also being at the age of wanting to fit in everywhere I very quickly found a love for Manchester United.
Over the years I grew to love this team on my own accord, through watching them in their amazing days with the likes of Cantona, Ince, Scholes, Beckham, Schmeichel and Giggs. The hours spent in the park both in and out of school were spent as Kankelskis, Hughes, Solskjaer putting goals past anyone that would try to defend me.
In my teens I was lucky enough to get taken to a European Champions League game at the Theatre of Dreams when United took on Dynamo Kiev. The impression that night left on me about football, Manchester United have stayed with me until now. The size of the stadium, the lights glowing in the night sky and how different watching football live looks to watching it on the TV. The football that night was spectacular but the noise and reactions were ‘electric’ and that atmosphere is what I feel and think of when I think back to that day. Shortly after I got my own shirt with my name on it and from that day whenever I played football I wore that shirt.
As my life turned to Cricket I watched football more than played it and always caught big games with close friends and family. It was nice having those around me support United too and even more interesting now having my wife supporting the other reds, Liverpool, always makes for good banter.
Every now and then I get an offer from a family member to go to Old Trafford and due to commitments I’ve been unable to go until last week. It all worked out and we got to go watch the ultimate reds vs blues game, United vs Chealsea. The journey, the atmosphere and the stadium brought back so many memories but this time there was a difference. This time I noticed the sheer power of one club, but more specifically one man on not only the people of Manchester but people all over the world.
Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of United for 27 years who was sat directly opposite me on the other side of the pitch, has been the manager all the years I’ve had a connection to the club and that one man, with the support of many others I’m sure has made 22 men kicking a ball around in Manchester on a 100m pitch, the biggest team and club in the world.
Football in general is regarded as a religion in some parts of the work but when we went to Asia recently it was amazing at the influence and support the club had from people wearing the shirts to tall sky scrappers with players and the logo on the side of them.
From a branding perspective it’s the ultimate brand to want to be part of. Anything you can think of can be branded and probably has been. I’ve had numerous conversations about how good companies must be to have their supporters, their customers in essence, want to buy everything brand related down to their birthday cake, bed-sheets and more amazingly get tattoos!
Now that he is retiring I think it will be a very long time until we see such an achievement, dedication and longevity in a manager and whether this affects the club’s future or not will be seen in the next few years. He said that he left the club in the best possible state which is true but once at the top it’s hard to sustain that. Some of Sir Alex’s achievements:
He won the English Title an amazing 13 times. In the 1998-1999 Season he won the English Title, FA Cup, and Champions League all in the same season.
He won the FA Cup 5 times. He was the longest serving Manager in United history and has Won 38 Trophies with the Utd. Won the League Cup 4 times.
He signed Eric Cantona for only £1.2 million and received an OBE in 1983 (the year I was born). Won the Champions League twice. He sold Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid for £80 million Won 10 Premiership Manager of the Year awards. Has over a 59% Win percentage with Man Utd. United has scored over 2,700 goals with him in charge.
Has won a total of 49 trophies as a Manager and He has won 894 Games with United.
Since he retired we’ve seen Paul Scholes and David Beckham hang up their boots, this really is the end of an era at Old Trafford.