MILAN, ITALY (MAY 1, 2007) (REUTERS) - Alex Ferguson will surpass Matt Busby's record when he becomes Manchester United's longest-serving manager on Sunday (December 18), an achievement unlikely to be beaten in an age of decreasing patience with the man in charge.
Alex Ferguson modest about his achievements as he becomes Manchester United's longest-serving manager.
Ferguson will overtake Busby's record of 24 years, 1 month and 13 days in the job when he takes his Premier League leaders
to champions Chelsea on Sunday. Busby accumulated his 8,800-plus days in charge as United manager in two spells, the first between 1945 and 1969 when he built the modern club and made them champions of Europe, and the second spell a largely forgettable postscript in 1970-71.
Ferguson has been in control at Old Trafford since November 1986 but if he had been starting in the current soccer climate,
it is unlikely he would have survived this long. It took Ferguson nearly four years to bring his first trophy to Old Trafford and that is too long to wait for success these days. The quick-fix mentality of some clubs contrasts with the longevity that 68-year-old Ferguson has achieved at United -- and previously at East Stirling, St Mirren and Aberdeen in Scotland, after surpassing 2,000 games as a manager in professional football in October.
" The thing that I find strange anyway, I always thought Sir Matt was here for eternity, " said Ferguson. " I thought he'd be here forever, maybe because he started after the war and then rebuilt the club and then rebuilt the club after the emotional issue of the Munich air disaster that rebuilt the club to win the European Cup in 1968, so therefore all the tings that happened in Sir Matt's tiome seemed to me to have some sort of eternity about it, whereas in my time here I've not had these emotional issues that Sir Matt had to face, so that's why I simply think that Matt was here forever, so it's surprising I've passed his record, it really is surprising."
To Ferguson three points against Chelsea on Sunday is a greater priority. " I don't think (it's emotional), I don't think it is, it's a proud moment I suppose, but no. I think winning may be emotional, I think winning will be very emotional for me."
Ferguson acknowledges the importance of Sunday's game " Well it is a big one, " he said " It's a big one because our record down there over the last eight years has been poor, we've managed three or four draws or something like that , but we've lost a few, but given our record down there up until then, it was a fantastic record, probably our best away from home, but it's a different Chelsea, it's a very tough team to beat on their own ground, their home record tells you that , but I'm going into the game with a strong squad, with a confident squad and we know it's not going to be easy, but if you're going to go there you'll want to go there when you're on good form and we are in good form. "
Ferguson's first United game in charge was a 2-0 defeat by Oxford United on Nov. 8, 1986 and after three years of
mediocrity there were growing calls from fans and the media for his dismissal.
The Scot has called December 1989 the "darkest period" he had suffered in the game and a month later an FA Cup third round
match against Nottingham Forest was seen by many as his last chance to save his job. United famously won the match with a goal from Mark Robbins and a few months later won the FA Cup with the European Cup
Winners Cup following a year later.
From then on Ferguson could do no wrong, ending a 26-year wait for the championship in 1993 and reaching the pinnacle with
the Champions League triumph and treble in 1999. He has won a total of 11 league titles, five FA Cups, four League Cups and two Champions League titles at United -- more trophies than Busby achieved, but complementing Busby's successes, not overrshadowing them.
Ferguson, who will be 69 on New Year's Eve, could still extend his record by quite some time, having shown a seemingly
insatiable appetite for the game since shelving retirement plans in 2002.