The history of Manchester United is a rich one and it goes without saying that at RetroUnited.com we like to indulge in it.
A feature we have been planning for some time but one we wanted to hold back to launch with a new season is our ‘Retro Programmes’ feature where we look back at the manager’s notes from seasons past, picking some of the most memorable and iconic occasions to go over.
We kick off with a return to the end of the 1991/1992 season and the home game with Tottenham Hotspur, which had the distinction of being the last Manchester United programme of the old First Division and the first since the Reds somehow capitulated to throw away a two point lead with a game in hand and three games after that to go.
Defeats at home to Nottingham Forest, West Ham and Liverpool sealed United’s fate and Alex Ferguson’s notes were fittingly sombre.
‘One gets a lot of disappointments in life,’ he begun. ‘Every Saturday the supporters of perhaps half the football clubs in the country end up disappointed with their team’s results. It’s the nature of the game, indeed of all sport. Normally you ride through it and think better luck next time. Now and again, though, comes a setback which doesn’t just numb you for a little while but hits you straight between the eyes and leaves a vacuum in your life, a void which at the time seems inescapable. You wonder how you are going to get out of it and how long it will take to repair the damage. I guess I have been down that road twice, once as a player and now as manager of Manchester United with the bitter disappointment of seeming to have the League championship in our grasp only to lose it at the death. And death is just about how I felt after seeing the title finally slip away at Liverpool last Sunday.’
However, the notes closed with a rallying cry that even the man himself could never have imagined would be so prophetic.
‘The experience could make them better men and true players of Manchester United,’ he declared. ‘It might just be the final lesson creating a real team in the fullest meaning of the word. Thank you for your support. We are determined we won’t let you down again. We are going to rise again. The traditions built by Sir Matt Busby will not be allowed to waste. We are going to show we are bigger than that.’
What happened next? Oh, an era of unparalleled success and dominance, that’s right.
Those words and the subsequent actions, almost six years after arriving at the club, demonstrate the value of patience in a strong vision.