New Year’s Eve saw Sir Alex Ferguson, the most successful British manager in the history of the game, turn 80-years-old. Over the years, his teams provided much entertainment to fans of the Red Devils, as well as his penchant for soundbites. Here are five of his most famous quips.
“Football, Bl**dy Hell”
Said immediately after one of the most dramatic endings to any game in the last 30 years, Ferguson was uncharacteristically lost for words.
United had never won a Champions League during his tenure and a lack of success on the continent threatened to overshadow what he had done domestically.
However, injury-time goals from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saw them snatch the trophy away from Bayern Munich to complete the 1999 treble, arguably Ferguson’s greatest ever achievement.
It’s only three words, but few times have three words said so much.
“Squeaky Bum Time”
Now synonymous with close title races and relegation battles, Ferguson first brought this three-word crack into the public consciousness in 2003, when he was battling with old nemesis Arsene Wenger and Arsenal.
The season before, Arsenal won the title with some ease, and United had to fight back to avoid going two Premier League seasons without being crowned champions for the first time.
For much of the season, it looked as though the Gunners would seal back-to-back titles but United roared back to win by five points.
“It Was a Freakish Incident. If I Tried It 100 or a Million Times It Couldn’t Happen Again. If I Could I Would Have Carried on Playing!”
Towards the end of David Beckham’s time at Old Trafford, it was becoming increasingly clear that the relationship between the then England captain and Ferguson was breaking down.
However, for someone as steely and ruthless as the Scot, even he didn’t mean for one unfortunate incident to occur.
United and Arsenal had another tussle, this time in the FA Cup fifth round in 2003, and the Gunners won the match 2-0.
Afterwards, Ferguson was so incensed by the standard of his side’s performance that he launched into a scathing attack and kicked a stray boot across the dressing room.
Beckham, an innocent bystander, was struck by the boot and sported visible injuries above his right eye, requiring stitches.
Months later, his departure was announced, as he became the latest Real Madrid Galactico in a £25million deal.
“It’s City, Isn’t It? They Are a Small Club, With a Small Mentality.”
For much for Ferguson’s reign at Old Trafford, rivals Manchester City were of little consequence.
At best they were mid-table fodder in the Premier League and at worst they were scrapping in the old Division Two.
So, when they were taken over by the United Arab Emirates in 2008 and started splashing the cash, it was a real eye opener.
One of their most notable early transfers was taking Carlos Tevez to the Etihad after his two-year stint on the red side of Manchester.
A banner was unveiled by City supporters, cheekily reading “Welcome to Manchester” and it is safe to say Ferguson was unimpressed.
“If He Was an Inch Taller He’d Be the Best Centre-Half in Britain. His Father Is 6ft 2in – I’d Check the Milkman.”
For someone as intense as Ferguson, he still managed to retain his sense of humour from time to time.
Gary Neville was one of his stalwarts from the Class of 92, holding down the right-back slot for over 15 years.
He did occasionally fill in at centre-back when needed and Ferguson clearly regarded him highly in that position.
Just a shame the now revered pundit stopped growing at five foot 11.