Sir Alex Ferguson The Emperor of Old Trafford Immortalised In Bronze
There you go! Fergie looks on with delight as the covers come off his giant statue outside Old Trafford.
Pointing the way: Fergie gives his verdict to the crowd gathered at Old Trafford alongside his wife Cathy
‘The rain never stops Manchester people,’ he was to say later.
Ferguson has enjoyed many significant days and nights inside this stadium. This, however, was a rather big day outside it and the great and the good of Ferguson’s 26 years at the club were there to witness it. In the modern game, perhaps only the United manager could command such high-profile attendance on a cold Friday afternoon.
And perhaps the footballing faces that looked up at him as he stood up high alongside his statue said more about his success than a single chunk of marble ever could.
Immortalised: The statue up close outside Old Trafford dedicated to the manager
There were too many to list here. But if we say that Eric Cantona, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Gary Neville, Andrew Cole, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar were present then the picture becomes clear.
On the video screen erected to our left we heard from Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho, Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham. There was also a message from Sepp Blatter, though perhaps we would have coped without that.
Interestingly, both Ronaldo and Beckham began their recorded messages with the word ‘boss’.
Ronaldo vowed to return soon for English lessons while Beckham thanked Ferguson for giving him ‘the best years of my career’. Beckham – about to play the MLS Cup Final in LA in a week’s time – said he had ‘cherished’ his time under Ferguson. So, too, have many others. Perhaps that is why they came.
Video message: David Beckham spoke ahead of the presentation with Ferguson (right) and former United players Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Eric Cantona (below)
Say what you like about Ferguson but he will never want for loyalty from those who have served under him. One of his great skills has been to create bonds with players that take more than the passing of time to break.
Before Ferguson’s wife Cathy unveiled her husband’s statue, we heard from celebrity United follower Eamonn Holmes, who later claimed – rather peculiarly – that he didn’t like having his picture taken. He is a TV presenter.
Holmes reminded us of some pertinent facts. During Ferguson’s 26 years at United, there have been five US presidents and five UK prime ministers. There have been ten Liverpool managers, twelve England managers and, of course, nineteen Manchester City managers.
‘Sir Alex is our man,’ gushed Holmes and it was hard to argue. Should football clubs be erecting statues of managers while they are still working for them? It is a moot point and one that Ferguson himself even referred to.
‘People normally die before they get a statue,’ he said. ‘I’m outliving death.’
Regardless of that, however, this was an impressive ceremony. In the quality of its attendees, its brevity and the appropriate nature of the tributes. We could probably have done without chief executive David Gill’s cheap shot at the newspapers during his own brief address, but we can forgive him this. Gill has many qualities for which the modern United should be grateful but public speaking is not one of them.
Happily, Ferguson himself did rather better when it was his turn.
‘Somebody has to control me and Cathy is the only one who can,’ he quipped as his wife climbed the podium to do the honours.
‘Mind you, I’ve made her promise to come here every Saturday morning and bow down in front of me.’
Moments later Cathy tugged on a long rope. And nothing happened. But a more vigorous shake brought the red cover sheet to the ground and there he was, immortalised in stone by sculptor Philip Jackson.
Love him or loathe him, we will never get rid of him now.
Posted on November 23, 2012, in Sports and tagged Alex Ferguson, Bronze statue, DAVID Beckham, ERIC Cantona, Ferguson, Gary Neville, immortalized, Manchester United F.C., Old Trafford, Ruud van Nistelrooy. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.