Fergie time was all about club stability

Outgoing Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, above left, was presented with the Premier League on his Old Trafford farewell at the weekend, while Pompey boss Guy Whittingham, above right, is only starting out on the managerial trail after being handed a permanent contract at Fratton Park
Outgoing Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, above left, was presented with the Premier League on his Old Trafford farewell at the weekend, while Pompey boss Guy Whittingham, above right, is only starting out on the managerial trail after being handed a permanent contract at Fratton Park
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Managerial longevity is a phrase that has been trotted out quite frequently in the past few days.

Unless you switched off all your media devices and blindfolded yourself when popping into the newsagent, the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson from his position at Manchester United was hard to avoid.

For my money, the media went overboard with the wall-to-wall coverage.

Yes, it was a surprise that he decided to step down, but should someone retiring from their job really be the top story on most news channels for three days solid?

For me, much as the fawning began to grate after a while.

Sir Alex deserves the accolades as he is undeniably the most successful manager this country has ever seen.

He deserves a long and happy retirement after 26 years in the job.

My only dealing – if you can call it that – with Sir Alex is something of a non-story that will probably not even make my memoirs when they are penned in my old dotage.

Well, they might if I’m really struggling to fill the pages.

Pompey had just beaten United 1-0 in that famous FA Cup quarter-final at Old Trafford in 2008.

According to MUTV – the club’s in-house channel – Sir Alex felt the referee was to blame for the shock defeat, claiming his side had been denied a clear penalty when Sylvain Distin had shoulder-barged Cristiano Ronaldo in the penalty area.

As we all waited patiently for the manager to come up to the plush press room to field questions from journalists, we got the message that he wasn’t coming and sent his assistant instead.

Sir Alex may very well be an excellent winner, but on that occasion there was little doubt that he’s also a terrible loser.

Guy Whittingham, meanwhile, is at the other end of the managerial spectrum – having been officially appointed Pompey boss last month.

It shows what a short-term job it is these days – as had Whittingham been confirmed in the role when Michael Appleton left six months ago, he would now be in the top 60 of the longest-serving managers among league football’s 92 clubs.

But looking through the Blues’ recent history, Whittingham’s 30-match tenure has already seen him outlast former bosses Tony Adams (22 games), Velimir Zajec and Alain Perrin (both 21 games) and Steve Claridge (23).

Meanwhile, he is just one match away from overtaking Paul Hart (30).

He’s also closing in on Avram Grant’s 33 matches in charge and Tony Pulis (35), while Michael Appleton (51), Graham Rix (56) and Steve Cotterill (61) should be overhauled next season.

He’s got some way to go to reach the records of Harry Redknapp (128 and 116), Terry Fenwick (131), Jim Smith (199) and Alan Ball (97 and 222).

But you’ll have to wait until 2033 if you want to see Whittingham overhaul Pompey’s longest-serving manager of all time – Jack Tinn.

The famous lucky-spats-wearing boss did 20 years in the job from 1927-47, and built a side that was the best in the country following two league championships and an FA Cup final win.

Whittingham, himself, will probably know silverware is some way off, but stability and digging some Fratton Park foundations will be his building blocks to success.

Making it to 20 years – or even 26 years – may be asking a lot in the modern game.

But those in charge of Pompey firmly believe they have the right man at the helm.

If that is the case, their belief will be tested if things are not always going to plan and some supporters ask for change.

Let’s remember that also happened at Manchester United after a tough start to Sir Alex’s reign.

But while other clubs continue to ignore the benefit of choosing a manager and sticking by him, United kept the faith in tough times.

With the club craving some stability, Pompey could do very well to take a leaf from that book.