Sir Alex: 1000 not out
Since arriving at Old Trafford in November 1986, Sir Alex Ferguson has broken record after record at Manchester United.
The milestones, too, have tumbled. Most United games managed, 25 years in charge… and now, after taking the Reds to Southampton on Sunday, he has taken charge of his 1000th league game in English football.
It’s a phenomenal tally, especially when you consider Sir Alex had steered the Reds to victory in almost 60 per cent of them and tasted defeat just 168 times. In all, he’s amassed a remarkable average of 2.03 points per game over his 26-year reign, and in that time, United have scored 1866 goals and conceded just 892, a goal difference of +974.
Here, we take a look at some of the ups and downs during his 26-years at Old Trafford…
The first Sir Alex started with a whimper, not a bang. In charge for the first time when United travelled to Oxford on 8 November 1986, he witnessed a poor performance and a 2-0 defeat. From there, the only way was up.
Super season Sir Alex’s has won 12 league titles, but the most convincing was arguably in 1999/00 when he guided the club to victory by accruing 91 points, winning 28 games and losing just three. The Reds cruised to victory by a whopping 17-point margin. It remains, statistically, United’s best league season during the Ferguson era.
One to forget It’s hard to believe, but Sir Alex’s reign hasn’t always been successful. It took time to get going. In fact, in the 1989-90 campaign United mustered only a 13th-place finish, averaging just 1.26 points per game. Ouch.
Goals galore The boss has watched many a rampant attacking display. His biggest league victory came on 4 March 1995, when Andy Cole hit five against Ipswich Town at OT in a spectacular 9-0 win. It remains a Premier League record. Away from home, Sir Alex’s biggest victory came at Nottingham Forest on 6 February 1999 when four late strikes by substitute Ole Gunnar Solskjaer turned a romp into an 8-1 rout.
On the receiving end In the interest of balance, we should point out the manager has also had to endure the odd thrashing. Sir Alex’s biggest defeat came last season as Manchester City racked up a 6-1 victory (albeit against 10 men) at Old Trafford. He described the match as “an embarrassment” and labelled it his “worst ever day” as United boss. Coincidentally, Ferguson’s three largest league defeats have all come in the month of October.
Unbeatable Consistency has been key down the years and a number of Ferguson’s teams have built success on the back of long undefeated runs. The 2000 vintage was particularly resilient and won 12 consecutive matches between 11 March and 20 August, while two of Sir Alex’s sides have gone 29 league games unbeaten (26 December 1998 to 25 September 1999 and 11 April 2010 to 1 February 2011).
Facts and Figures
Most wins in a season: 28 (1999/00, 2006/07, 2008/09, 2011/12)
Fewest defeats in a season: 3 (1998/99, 1999/2000)
Consecutive clean sheets: 14 (15 Nov 2008 to 18 Feb 2009)
Most goals in a season: 97 (1999/2000)
Fewest goals conceded in a season: 22 (2007/08)
* All stats league games only