This article was first written on 2 January, 2013. We are republishing it in light of David Moyes’ appointment as Manchester United manager — and his Scottish connection with Alex Ferguson.
Manchester United’s comeback 4-3 victory against ‘wee club’ Newcastle United once again drew adulation of a ‘never say die’ attitude from commentators overseeing the game the world over.
I would call the victory spectacular, but we’ve seen it so often and expect Manchester United to deliver the goods whenever they’ve had their backs to the wall that their seemingly impossible triumphs – which still require me to pick my jaw up off the floor – are the norm of the Red Devils under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Nevertheless, they are a quality that Sir Alex has brought to the Club, not one that was steeped in the foundations of Old Trafford.
Manchester United under Sir Alex’s predecessors were a far cry of the Premier League heavyweights we know (and some love) today. Sure, Tommy Docherty, Dave Sexton, Frank O’Farrell and Ron Atkinson did achieve some success with United, but none of them have managed to craft a lasting legacy that Sir Alex has.
In Sir Alex, United have a manager of the quality second only to Sir Matt Busby, the man who’s moulding of United was so instrumental that the street on which Old Trafford stands is today known as Sir Matt Busby Way. He revolutionised the club from the top down, and it is courtesy Sir Matt that the names of the Holy Trinity will forever be immortalised in glory.
The reason they bring this resilience to the club is because of their roots. They are both Scottish, and possess a certain indescribable quality that infects those around them with a will to win.
Scotland have always been a stubborn nation. Historically speaking, they have always fought tooth and nail for their independence. For decades they waged war with England, but the grit of men like William Wallace and Robert the Bruce time and again made sure that those who stayed north of Hadrian’s Wall were always independent.
What is Hadrian’s Wall, you ask? Hadrian’s Wall was a wall spanning the length of the border between England and Scotland constructed in 122 AD by Roman Emperor Hadrian to keep the Scots from invading and pillaging English lands. The mighty Roman Empire, who had conquered half the known world, could not keep out this fierce group from the north of Britain.
And how did the Scots overcome this wall? Simple: by climbing over it.
But it isn’t just Ferguson and Busby who embody this quality. Scottish managers throughout the Premier League have this quality. The best example to illustrate this would be Everton manager David Moyes.
The 49-year-old has been in charge of Everton since 2002, and has taken them to new heights in the face of all the hardships he has to encounter. Everton have always been in the shadow of their more illustrious rivals Liverpool, who have always had a significantly more lavish budget than the one afforded to Moyes.
While the arrival of oil money in the Premier League has seen Chelsea and Manchester City change the landscape of the world’s most competitive league, no oligarch, Sheikh or business magnate has taken as much as a second glance in the direction of Goodison Park.
Despite this, Moyes’ eye for a bargain and his ability to get the best out of his players on a consistent basis has seen Everton not just manfully avoid relegation time and again, but move them inexorably towards the European spots in the League table. The Toffees are currently sixth in the table with 33 points to their name.
Nikica Jelavic came to England from Scottish side Rangers FC for a paltry £5 million while his former strike partner at Rangers — Steven Naismith — joined the Croatian for free this summer. Marouane Fellaini is Everton’s most expensive buy ever, and has come for a fee of only £15 million. Compare that to the exorbitant sums those who possess seemingly endless coffers have spent.
Steve Clarke was appointed manager of West Bromwich Albion in the summer, and for a while, his team occupied a Champions League berth and had license to dream.
His team are now seventh in the table, and despite suffering a blip in form of late, which is expected when one faces Arsenal and Manchester United in the same month, his West Brom side display a resilience that has seen them claim crucial away wins against Norwich and Queens Park Rangers on the road.
The former Scotland international made his name with Chelsea in the Premier League, with whom he made 330 league appearances, and has little managerial experience to his name, but seems completely at home at the Hawthorns.
Scotsmen also display a certain humility despite doing their job the way it’s meant to be done, and are always the first to face the music when their teams do not perform as expected. Alex McLeish is one name that comes to mind in this context.
The current Nottingham Forest manager won the 2010-11 League Cup with Birmingham City, but like Hull City and Blackpool before them, lost the effervescence with which promoted teams play football as the season wore on, which meant they went through the relegation trapdoor on the last day of the season.
McLeish knew the fault for returning to the Championship lay with him, and resigned soon after the season had ended, despite the Club’s Board of Directors guaranteeing him safety over the condition of his job.
Another League Cup winning manager inspired a fan following and buoyed his club when they most needed him to. Kenny Dalglish took over midway through last season after Roy Hodgson had been dismissed by Liverpool‘s new owners, and despite not scaling the heady heights he had once done as both player and manager in the past, won Liverpool silverware when they beat Cardiff City in the League Cup final, assuring them European football this season.
But King Kenny’s appointment was only to be temporary, despite former Head of Scouting Damien Comolli telling the Club’s American owners that he was the right man for the job.
At this point, I would like to give special praise to Celtic boss Neil Lennon, who has stayed manager of the Scottish side despite being the target of numerous death threats and hate messages stemming from religion.
Scottish managers have qualities that make them ideal candidates for the job. They are humble, determined, resilient, are capable of dishing out the tough love and are extremely confident.
So confident, that Scotsmen are man enough to wear skirts when the occasion demands it.