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SL's Top Managers: 1- Alex Ferguson

26 years at the same club. 38 glittering trophies.

That record alone marks Manchester United icon Alex Ferguson out as arguably the greatest manager of all time.

Add in another 11 trophies gleaned from stints at unfashionable Scottish clubs St Mirren and Aberdeen, two of them in continental football, and Fergie’s 49-trophy haul is simply incontestable.

Love him or hate him, and may people do both, it is hard to deny that Alex Ferguson’s longevity at the pinnacle of the beautiful game is unlikely to be repeated.

In his time in charge of Manchester United, the Red Devils went from fallen giants of the First Division, to the undisputed behemoths of the English Premier League.

Fergie arrived at Old Trafford in 1986 as a young former Scottish international striker with a blossoming managerial reputation.

He endured a painfully slow start, and famously almost lost his job after five years without a trophy.

But to United’s credit they did something almost unheard of in modern football. They stuck with their man and reaped the benefits when he led them to their first Premier League title in 1993.

From that moment, Fergie never looked back, and saw off wave after wave of challengers to establish Manchester United as the dominant force in English football.

Kenny Dalglish’s Blackburn,  Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle, Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal, Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea and money's Manchester City. All of them were overcome when it seemed they would be the nail in Fergie’s coffin.

And how he overcame them. Snarling, spitting and cajoling, making sure they knew he was top dog and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

Has there ever been a manager capable of instilling in his players a fear of defeat so intense that their drive to win was so unrelenting?

How many massive last-minute goals, in some mystery minute of additional time, did Fergie’s incandescent rage inspire?

In three decades of management, Fergie discovered every way to win with Manchester United. He always liked to attack, but was adaptable enough to know when crawling over the line was good enough. As long as there was victory at the end.

With two Champions Leagues trophies; two Cup Winners Cups; 15 domestic titles and 14 domestic cups nobody has ever won as many trophies as Fergie at the highest level of football, and maybe nobody will.

Arguably, the great and grumpy Glaswegian's only real sporting failure was the inability to conquer Europe more with United, when it seemed they had the Champions League at their feet.

But it bears repeating that in the most competitive era of European club football, no club has ever retained the Champions League since Fergie first entered the competition.

During this march through history to locate football’s greatest manager we have encountered legends from the past, and young upstarts who may well finish their careers at the very top.

All of them have something special to mark them as managerial heavyweights: trophy hauls, playing style, adaptability, longevity and more.

Fergie had it all.

Click the links to read about each legendary manager: 10- Munoz; 9- Clough; 8- Hitzfeld; 7- Guardiola; 6- Mourinho; 5- Paisely; 4- Michels; 3- Herrera; 2- Del Bosque; 1- Ferguson

Farewell Sir Alex Ferguson!

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