Did Sir Alex Ferguson’s Influence on Officials Effect How Successful He Was?

The hairdryer. A term most football fans know is synonymous with Manchester United and more specifically Sir Alex Ferguson. A brief explanation of the term would be ‘the heat generated from perhaps the Premier League’s most successful ever manager’s mouth as he towers over a player, grilling them for some form of mistake made during a match’. But did the hairdryer, or at least Sir Alex’s attitude towards winning extend further than to just his players in the dressing room?

We’ve all seen it when we used to watch United on the TV, a pink faced, obviously seething with rage Sir Alex Ferguson on the side-line sometimes jumping up and down with pure anger during a match where his beloved Red Devils were losing or sometimes even drawing. So the passion that this man had for winning was never a secret to anyone even remotely involved in football, everyone knew and still knows that Sir Alex Ferguson loved winning. I mean, who doesn’t? Nobody plays, coaches or watches football or any sport for that matter and doesn’t want to win, it’s the nature of the beast! However, I feel in some ways that Sir Alex’s attitude towards winning and how far he would take that was somewhat unfair, especially when it would have a direct impact on how decisions were made by officials during games.

Mark Clattenburg spoke recently in an interview about Jurgen Kloop, saying “He does not like losing, he never has. He gets prickly. But he is wrong to suggest there is an aura around United that sees them given favourable decisions. There used to be when Fergie was there, but that has eased massively since he left.” Reading that almost made me angry in a strange way. It made me think back to the countless trophies that I have seen Manchester United win during Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign at the club, and even more from when I can’t remember. How many decisions have been given in favour of United over the years, purely out of fear from Referees of the backlash they would get from Fergie? How many minutes have been added on to games that have helped them to come from behind to scrape a point, or even three points, solely because of the influence that Sir Alex Ferguson had over officials?

As previously mentioned, Sir Alex’s passion has never been a secret to anyone and I don’t want to take anything away from what he achieved with Manchester United over the 26 years that he was at the helm. It’s obvious that 38 trophies including 13 Premier League titles, 5 FA cups and 2 Champions Leagues were not won just because he created an ‘aura’ around the team that saw them win favourable decisions, but I do think if you add up all of the small, individual times that perhaps decisions were made based off of fear of Sir Alex, that there would be some change in how many matches were won, and potentially how many trophies were won.

Again, I really don’t want to take away from the success that Fergie brought to Untied, they were already a well decorated club before his arrival, and he coached arguably some of the best players in the world at the time and integrated them all into one, pretty much unstoppable team. Players over the years like Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Roy Keane, Eric Cantona, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney to name just a few were all astonishing talents and were a massive part of the reason that the club were so successful, but I can’t get away from wondering how many individual decisions were given in favour of Manchester United, rooted from a perhaps toxic attitude towards winning?

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