Manchester United had gone 26 years without a league title when Sir Alex Ferguson won it in 1993. Three years later, the team was built around academy graduates that Fergie had made a point of introducing in to the squad and they were the cornerstone of the success in the years that followed.
Speaking to the club’s official site following his induction in to the Premier League Hall of Fame, Fergie has talked about how he wanted to follow in the footsteps of Sir Matt Busby in making young players the focus of the team.
I looked at the history of the club. How Sir Matt Busby built his team from young players and that’s what I believed in. I did it at St Mirren, I did it at Aberdeen and Manchester United were the perfect club for me to rebuild based mainly on young players. I understand why managers only concern themselves with the first team because in a results industry, you need to win to keep your job. I didn’t think that way. The youth team had not been flourishing and I realised there were just not enough scouts. What really helped was Eric Harrison’s youth team. Eric was a fantastic coach, not only producing footballers, he made them good human beings. They were disciplined and tough in their training. In particular, local players, you know the two Nevilles, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and then David Beckham came up from London. I remember when I said to Bryan Robson: “I think the youth team could beat you”. Robbo was raging. He said: “Get them out there!” So, we had a game and I said to Eric: “Get them into the United strips and run out as a team”. On the day, it was hailing at the training ground. The first team won but the match was great and it was a fantastic period.
Ferguson will long be remembered as the greatest manager of all time and he’s spoken about how his leadership style brought about so much success.
Well, leadership is basically the manager’s ability to put his personality in the team. Every time, they’re putting that jersey on as a United player. They’re playing against what my expectation is and it’s to win. Your job is to send the fans home happy. I think that players recognise a leader who’s hardworking, is disciplined and is someone they recognise every day. You know I never changed and I think that’s important as a leader. They knew every day I was the same person. Communication is really important and it created a strong club. I would show loyalty to players and they could come to me any time and depend on me if they were ever having problems.