I'm sure Mark Hughes gave a sigh of relief when Joe Allen slammed in a late equaliser against Manchester United last weekend. I was surprised Hughes achieved a point against his former club. I can’t remember him doing too well at Old Trafford in the past.
Fergie’s managerial dynasty spawned a plethora of managers who would later compete against him and Manchester United. Many of these had significant success at United. I often wondered whether there was a psychological barrier when returning ‘home’ with a different club for these managers? Was it the case that it was easier for Fergie to take on his prodigy at a managerial level. After all he thought them a lot of what they knew.
A manager-by-manger analysis is below. The total points for each manager is noted at the start. The review is only for Premier League games and doesn’t include managers that had a brief spell under Fergie at Aberdeen or Scotland. Nor does it include managers in the post-Fergie period only (Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lost once against Manchester United in the post-Fergie era). In many ways Steve Bruce and Mark Hughes are the two observations worthy of analysis as they have racked up a significant number of matches in the pre and post Fergie Era.
The Fergie Era Only
Bryan Robson – 5/39 From thirteen matches against Fergie, primarily with Middlesbrough but also with West Brom, Robson’s only took five points from his former manager. He had one famous 2-3 win in December 1998 where Boro held on for dear life at the end. Other than that Robson achieved a 3-3 draw in May 1997 and captured an important late point for West Brom in May 2005 against United which set them up for a heroic last day escape.
Gordon Strachan – 6/48 From sixteen matches, the Scot chalked up only two wins against Manchester United and his old manager. One memorable win happened when he managed Coventry and they beat United 3-2 thanks to a late Darren Huckerby goal in December 1997. The other win came when he managed Southampton. In August of 2003 James Beattie scored an 88-minute winner.
Paul Ince – 0/3 Ince took on Fergie in one game as Blackburn manager back in October 2008. Blackburn lost 0-2 and Ince was not given the chance to manage the return fixture. He was sacked soon after the defeat.
Roy Keane – 0/6 Roy met Fergie on two occasions as Sunderland boss. He lost both. Sunderland failed to score in either. Keane was sacked just days before the United fixture the following season.
Pre and Post Fergie
Steve Bruce – Against Fergie 4/51, Post Fergie 1/12. Overall: 5/63
Bruce has taken on United with a range of teams including Birmingham, Sunderland and Hull. Initially his teams found it difficult to even score against United and Fergie. In April 2004 (on Bruce’s fourth attempt) Martin Grainger scored in a 2-1 loss. His first point came in a home 0-0 draw in October 2005. He’s chalked up three other draws against Fergie over the years but never defeated him in the Premier League. Things haven’t gotten much better since Fergie has retired. He’s been defeated three times out of four in the post-Fergie period.
Mark Hughes Against Fergie 6/36, Post Fergie 8/21 Overall: Since Fergie has left, Hughes has come on. Last week’s point made it eight out of twenty-one in the post-Fergie era. He had two notable wins at the Britannia. A 2-1 victory in February 2014 and a 2-0 win last season. During Fergie’s reign things were grim. Apart from this memorable 4-3 win which saw David Bentley score a hatrick in November 2006, Hughes stuttered, picking up the odd draw at home for Blackburn and Fulham. He lost both Manchester Derbies (one in 'Fergie Time') while Manchester City manager.
While it's critical to admit Fergie had the beatings of most managers, his disciples above did not do well against him - 21 points out of a possible 183.