Sir Alex Ferguson is the Manchester United manager from 1986 until 2013. He is the longest-serving manager for Manchester United, eclipsing Sir Matt Busby. He also had uttered a famous word, “I’m going to knock out Liverpool from their perch,” and true to his word, he had achieved it. Before the retirement of Ferguson, Liverpool has 18 League title, and Manchester United only had seven, but upon his retirement, United had 20 league title while Liverpool had 19 titles. So he had made the famous word a reality; however, Sir Alex Ferguson, during his tenure, also had some disappointing moment which can correlate to his UEFA Champion League(UCL) medal, in which he had only two.

Unable to compete in the 2002 UCL final

SAF have the ambition to win the UCL In 2002, which will be held in Hampden Park, Scotland. The reason for this ambition is because he had played there, and he is born in Scotland. However, his obsession with winning the UCL title in Hampden Park had been dealt with a crushing blow as Bayern Leverkusen had knocked them out in the semifinal. In these semifinal ties,  they had dominated Leverkusen only to be failed by the defensive error in the first leg and wasteful finishing in the second leg.

Man marking Messi in 2011 UCL Final

In 2009, Fergie unable to replicate the achievement of Liverpool in winning the UCL two consecutive times and equaling Bob Paisley record of 3 UCL winning medals with some team. In 2009, he had been defeated by Guardiola’s Barcelona and facing some opponent again in 2011 final. In the recent interview, he said that he should use Park Ji Sung to man-mark Messi in the second half. However, the delay in executing these tactics in the second half proved costly. Messi had single-handled destroy his ambition to add more UCL medal for Manchester United and equalling Bob Paisley as Barcelona had won again in the 2011 final.

Goalkeeping issue

Since the sad night in Leverkusen in 2002, United had a dismal record in the competition’s knockout round from 2003 until 2005. The goalkeeping error can be attributed to these unwanted records where Fabien Barthez in 2003 against Real Madrid, 2004 Tim Howard error that gave FC Porto the crucial away goal, and Raymond Van Der Gouw goalkeeping error led to Hernan Crespo getting the win for AC Milan in 2005. The search for a stable goalkeeper had ended in 2006 when SAF had signed Edwin Van Der Saar. However, SAF inability to get a stable goalkeeper during these periods had cost them dearly in the crucial European knockout games.

Breaking the trio

Before the emergence of Messi, Eto’o, and Henry, United had the best front three with Christiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, and Carlos Tevez, who can play any position in the attacking third. These pair had helped SAF to won the UCL in 2008. However, in the following season, SAF had decided to break up the team by acquiring Dimitar Berbatov from Tottenham Hotspur, which had been detrimental to the continuous evolution of the attacking trio. Berbatov does not have some energy and pace as these front three. If the attacking trio had been continued for another season, United might have won the UCL for the second consecutive season.

Too cavalier football in the early years in Europe

Before SAF had decided to play with the one striker and transform United from a 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 formation team, SAF had been attack-minded in UCL competition in the early years. This style had been successful as United had won the treble in 1999 playing a British style 4-4-2 formation. However, most of the team had studied their playing style in the following year and hit them on the quick counter-attack. The best example of these in the game against Real Madrid in the 2000 quarter-final. Real Madrid does not have the best of the season during these seasons; however, in these game, Real Madrid, under Vicente Del Bosque, had identified United weakness and played on the counter. Their tactic prove decisive as Real Madrid won 3-2 in Old Trafford, denting United progression to the semifinal. Nevertheless, Madrid had taken the momentum from these wins and progressed to the final, where they had won their 8th UCL title.

Sold Jaap Stam to Lazio when he is at the peak of his career.

One of the great regrets for SAF is selling Jaap Stam to Lazio in 2000. Jaap Stam was a great defender, which Johan Cyruff had claimed as a one-man defence. He is solid and outstanding in a one-on-one situation; however, SAF had decided to sell him and replaced him with 35 years Laurent Blanc on the final day of the transfer window. Had Jaap Stam been in the team during these years, the defence frailties that had cost him dearly in many matches in the league and the UCL may not happen, and SAF may have had a happy ending in 2002.

In this 27 years management career with United, SAF had made some mistake and uncharacteristic delay and judgemental error. However, the work that he took and successfully transforming Manchester United from an underachieving team to a sports juggernaut and the creation of United dynasties during the early ’90s and in the 2000s can’t be denied. His fantastic feat of overtaking Liverpool while they’re 18 and United on 7 is colossal and may not be broken by any manager in the years to comes.

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