• Premier League

Edwards: Ferguson was never one game from the sack

ESPN staff
April 5, 2013
Sir Alex Ferguson is on course to win Manchester United's 20th Premier League title © Getty Images

Former Manchester United chairman Martin Edwards insists he never came close to sacking Sir Alex Ferguson, shattering the myth that the Scot was on the brink of being axed ahead of an FA Cup third round tie against Nottingham Forest in 1990.

Football folklore has long suggested that United officials were about to dispense with Ferguson's services in the run-up to the FA Cup tie at the City Ground 23 years ago, but Edwards told Sky Sports that those rumours were never close to becoming reality.

While conceding the club were considering the position of the manager who had failed to win a trophy in his first three seasons at Old Trafford, Edwards suggested the FA Cup final win against Crystal Palace in May 1990 turned out to 'be his saviour', as it started a story of relentless trophy winning success.

"I had actually approached him that week and told him that whether we win or lose at Forest in the cup, you are not losing your job on that one result," Edwards said. "We had that conversation during the week, so that certainly wasn't the case.

"If it had gone on for another season or whatever without any success at all, the pressure would have been there to do something. Fortunately, he did turn it around.

"There was a lot of pressure there to make a change. People were saying he had come in from Scotland, was he the right man to manage a big club in England, so we had all this outside pressure.

"But we knew how hard he was working behind the scenes, how hard he was working on the youth setup. We had to give that time and winning the cup that year was the saviour. We then won the Cup Winners' Cup in '91, the League Cup in '92, the title in '93, the Double in '94 and so it went on.

"Once he got that league success and followed it up with the Double in '94 and '96 and the Treble in '99, he got that respect. The older he has got, the more respect he has gained and the easier it has become for him. He is like Matt Busby was in his day, part of the fabric, part of the history of Manchester United. Success breeds success."

Edwards suggested Ferguson was given longer than most managers to bring success to United, as he pointed out it took the now legendary Old Trafford chief seven years to win his first Premier League title.

"When you think about it, he came in in late 1986 and we didn't win the league until 1993, so we gave him six or seven seasons to win that league," he added. "It is important that you give managers time to build and look at how we have benefitted from that decision. It has been tremendous.

"If you had said to me when we appointed him that we would win 12, hopefully 13, Premier Leagues within 26 or 27 years, you would never have believed it. It seems quite impossible, but he has done it."

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