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It’s a funny business, football. Undoubtedly the two most successful managers in English football since the dawn of the Premier League in 1992 have been Sir Alex Ferguson with Manchester United and Arsene Wenger with Arsenal. Ferguson won 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two Champions League titles, amid a myriad of honours. Working with more limited budgets, Wenger has won three Premier League titles and six FA Cup trophies.
What they both have in common is longevity. Ferguson managed Manchester United for 27 years – twenty seven years! – and Wenger has been in charge of Arsenal for 19 years since he got the bonus code
Wenger and Ferguson are outliers; most teams are much closer to averaging a new manager every year than anything like the timeframes these two managerial maestros bossed their sides.
There is something of a chicken-and-egg to this. Wenger and Ferguson’s immense success, of course, is what justifies their longevity. Trophies buy you time. But that said, both Manchester United and Arsenal – had they listened to many fans, tabloids and radio phone-ins at different times – would have jettisoned their managers based on periods of time both have overseen without huge success.
Ferguson, most famously, took several years to bed into Manchester United, who at the time had been through a long lean period in the post-Matt Busby era. He was a piece of Mark Robins magic away from being sacked, legend has it.
And Arsenal fans and pundits seem to raise the idea of firing Wenger every season that passes without the North London club raising the Premier League trophy again, for all the success he has brought them – again, under tight budget constraints.
The lesson, of course, is patience. Which brings us to Liverpool: a club once renowned more than any other in the world for its culture of continuity through its legendary “Boot Room” philosophy and practice, they have jumped from boss to boss. We will never know what might have happened if Brendan Rodgers, who took the Merseyside closer to the Premier League title than they had been for years, had been afforded the kind of time Ferguson received 60 miles away in Manchester. Instead, he was canned as Liverpool turned to Jurgen Klopp.
Would patience have borne results? All we know is it did and has for the two most successful examples, in Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.