The legendary, now-retired figure of Sir Alex Ferguson has made one more contribution to the Premier League.
The former Manchester United manager has penned an open letter to the English top flight, published in the Premier League’s official review of the 2012/13 season.
The letter – a love letter of sorts – is intended to quell any growing myths about a possible decline of the English game.
Having begun as manager of the Red Devils in 1986, Ferguson compares the state of the game now to then and paints a picture of the English game 27 seasons ago.
“English football is in a much better place than it was 27 years ago. Across the leagues, stadiums weren’t what they should have been, the development of players was nowhere near as advanced as it is now, those controlling the game couldn’t give the TV rights away, fans weren’t treated properly and what interest there was in football from Government was negative.”
The Premier League is (now) known the world over for the passion and knowledge of its fans as well as the atmosphere in the grounds. Not just Old Trafford – the trips to Goodison, St James’, Anfield and White Hart Lane amongst others always produced fantastic support. It’s part of the history and tradition of the English game that drives its success today.”
There are growing fears among those in England that a lack of English players in the league has created an inflation effect, driving the transfer price of the remaining British talent through the roof and perpetuating the problem. Ferguson wrote to dismiss those fears as well.
“There has been a Manchester United Academy graduate in every one of my teams. United lifted last season’s Under-21 Premier League with eight players born within 21 miles of Old Trafford: two from Manchester, and one each from Bury, Rochdale, Oldham, Stockport, Macclesfield and Warrington. Not quite the Lisbon Lions but still impressive.
“This is the type of commitment to progressing home-grown players that the Elite Player Performance Plan will deliver. There are talented boys throughout this country and given the right training, environment and opportunity there is no reason why the whole English game can’t benefit from the hard work and investment of the clubs.”
The man known for “Fergie time” on the pitch warned viewers against the sting of living in the past and promised the best is yet to come from the English game.
“There are some with rose-tinted glasses who think football was great a generation ago, but nostalgia plays strange tricks with the mind. Back then, football’s role in the cultural make-up of the country was arguably in decline. It was a great shame.”
Despite the disdain for nostalgia, Sir Alex closed the letter with a bit of his own.
“I will miss all of it.”