... Ferguson & Shankly - 9/10. Irish Connection UK recommends! Essential read for United & Liverpool fans - a must have for budding young managers!
Shanks and Fergie. Two absolute legends in English football. Two proud Scots, two proud clubs. The embarassment of riches that both Manchester United and Liverpool now enjoy can arguably be put down to these two men. Roughed-up in the 'slums' of Glasgow, they brought their own unique traits to the game yet you can't help but draw the similarities both men posessed as football managers. They may have plyed their managerial careers in vastly different era's in time, but that Glaswegian grit to be a success remained consistant throughout.
Oliver Holt is an award-winning sports journalist who writes for the Daily Mirror newspaper. Essentially this was his take on the careers of Bill Shankly and Sir Alex Ferguson. Comparisons aplenty throughout this book which perhaps reflected worse on Ferguson that it did Shankly. Take into consideration this book was published in 2005 when United were going through their biggest trophy drought since the early 90's. Holt's view of Sir Alex was that he "perhaps should have retired in 2002 when he originally proposed". At the time this may have seen as a credible statement. Yet to doubt Ferguson is to dance with the Devil - and I don't mean Fred the Red!
Bill Shankly was one of the greatest. Liverpool Football Club was his life. He started the revolution at Anfield, yet walked away. He claimed he just wanted a break from the game, but that was hardly going to leave the club in the best of situations. It would inevitably led to an increased lack of stability. Therefore the decision was taken to appoint his successor, the great Bob Paisley, Shankly's right-hand man. Shankly couldn't stand his break from the game, he wanted back in. He thought Liverpool would have welcomed him back with open arms - they didn't. In many ways the story Holt told of 'Shanks' was that of a lonely man who simply wasn't complete without his club, Liverpool. On the other hand, you have Sir Alex Ferguson, probably the greatest manager of all-time. 23 years in charge of Manchester United, and counting! With United it was Championships galore, FA Cups aplenty, three major European tropies and the countless rest. But perhaps his greatest achievements (don't laugh) came as manager of Aberdeen. He broke the 'Old Firm' dominance in Scotland. It was no longer a two horse race between Rangers & Celtic. Ferguson had even taken the 'Dons' to Europe, and conquored that too! The man is simply a genius.
So when it comes down to it. Who's better? Ferguson or Shankly? Silly question, hand on heart it's Fergie. Even the head say's Fergie. Britain's (world's?) longest serving manager with two European Cup's in the bag. Shank's got close in 65' but alas never got his hands on 'old big ears' - the mark of a truly great manager. Holt claimed throughout the book that Ferguson stayed on too long and Shankly never stayed on long enough. He's right - about Shankly. He didn't stay on long enough. The reigns of impending glory were handed over much too soon. Who can argue with Bob Paisley's record? He's still ahead of Fergie in European Cup triumphs. Yet Shankly is the man most people will refer too when they talk lovingly of the history at LFC. That is why I feel Shanks and Paisley are on a far with one another. They both share the development and glory of Liverpool FC. Whereas with Ferguson, it was all him. Sir Matt Busby was the role model - Sir Alex Ferguson took it to the next level - and continues to do so.
So all in all, the title of the book suggests 'If You Are Second You Are Nothing'. This cannot be described as the case for these two icons of the game. Ferguson and Shankly are in-comparable. Credit must go to Oliver Holt for his analysis on their distinct footballing successes. He has judged both men as history will... in a class of their own.
“Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that.” - One quote uniting two great men.