After the first installment of “Managers Defined by their Players”, the second article will highlight the stars that defined the former Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, and new England boss, Sam Allardyce. Both of who’m shared a special relationship together, as well as with their players, in the English Premier League.
When you think of Manchester United, you usually think of one man- Sir Alex Ferguson. The historic manager led United on a path of glory that spanned for over twenty years, with the seventy-three year old ultimately retiring in 2013 after winning the Premier League for a staggering thirteenth (13) time.
It’s common knowledge that during the Ferguson era, United fielded an absolute wealth of talent, but realistically, only a small handful encapsulated what Sir Alex as a manager was all about- both on and off the field. So with that being said, it’s certainly no coincidence that the two players featured in this article enjoyed the most prestigious years of their careers under Ferguson. Firstly, it’s the little midfield magician, Paul Scholes, who racked up a total of seven-hundred and eighteen (718) appearances for United, while the second man featured in this article, Ryan Giggs, accumulated a rather impressive nine-hundred and sixty-three (963) appearances.
Testimony to this famous pair being highlighted as the players that defined Ferguson as a manager comes in the form of a glowing statement made by the man himself just recently regarding the players he considers “world class” while working under him in Manchester.
“I don’t mean to demean or criticise any of the great or very good footballers who played for me during my 26-year career at United, but there were only four who were world class.” – Alex Ferguson
Two of the four players in which Ferguson highlighted as being “world class”, were none other than Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. Two natural born winners that remained loyal to the club for so many years.
Scholes, who orchestrated proceedings from the center of the park for United, often had the likes of Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Andy Cole, Teddy Sheringham and Dwight Yorke all ahead of him ready to spur their side to glory- whether that be in the Premier League or Champions League! The player turned pundit, possessed bags of intelligence but maybe more importantly, the player remained loyal throughout his entire career to the club he loved- proving this by returning for a second stint at United when asked to by Ferguson in 2012, a year after initially retiring. The return was fruitful- he featured thirty three (33) times that season and ended the season with a Premier League winners medal. Some would call that a success!
These same characteristics most defiantly apply to Ryan Giggs- the Welshman has only recently left the club, but will one day hope to succeed Jose Mourinho as the manger of Manchester United.
The second manager under the spotlight is the current Sunderland boss, Sam Allardyce- who at the time of writing this article had just filled the vacant England manager position.
One player that instantly springs to mind when they speak about Sam Allardyce is the former West Ham midfielder, Kevin Nolan. Nolan, who was managed by Allardyce at Bolton, Newcastle and West Ham, currently finds himself at Leyton Orient after the Hammers boss, Slaven Bilic, deemed the midfielder surplus to requirements at Upton Park when he arrived at the club last season. Many put the decision to exclude Nolan down to the fact that Bilic will be hoping to switch up West Ham’s style of play, and Nolan is considered a direct contradiction of what Bilic will be hoping to get out of his team in the coming seasons.
Nolan, who takes a more traditional approach to today’s game, was often the player that audiences saw bursting into the box, feeding off a big man’s ability to take the ball down and fend off defenders in a typical Allardyce formation. He certainly wasn’t easy on the eye, his sheer grit and determination were two of his top strengths, which at times masked his inabilities technically and in others areas.