Former Manchester United and Wimbledon footballer sings Sir Alex Ferguson’s praises


Ferguson is today celebrating a quarter of a century in charge of Manchester United.


By Nicolas Atkin

As Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates a quarter of a century in charge of Manchester United, one of his former players is singing his praises.

Terry Gibson, 48, was at Manchester United when Ferguson arrived on November 6, 1986.

He was sold to Wimbledon in 1987, three years before United’s 1-0 FA Cup final replay win over Crystal Palace sparked more than two decades of dominance in England.

And Gibson joked: “He hasn’t looked back since getting rid of me!”

But Gibson is effusive in his praise.

He said: “It really is an unbelievable achievement, added to the fact he’s won so much.”

Gibson formed part of the infamous Crazy Gang alongside Vinnie Jones, Dennis Wise, John Fashanu and Lawrie Sanchez that stunned Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup final.

He remembers Ferguson’s arrival at United as if it were yesterday, yet it was not as spectacular as most would assume.

Gibson said: “He gave the usual speeches. It was no different to wherever else I’ve been where the manager’s been changed.

“Everyone wants to impress so you’re on your toes in training,” he added.

“It was a new slate for a lot of people, for me in particular.”

Ferguson arrived with United second from bottom in the old First Division after a disastrous start saw Ron Atkinson sacked.

“If you asked me on that first day if I saw a manager who was going to be at Man United and win what he has for the next 25 years, I’d be lying,” said Gibson.

But a disillusioned squad were soon made to feel important.

Gibson said: “He did treat everybody fairly. There were no favourites which had been the case under Ron.

“There was a group that played come what may even though results were bad. Those that hadn’t been regulars were given a chance.

“We all knew where we stood. Within two or three days we were all scared of him,” he added.

“No one was going to take any liberties with the manager.”

But Ferguson couldn’t give Gibson the regular first team football he craved so he joined Wimbledon in 1987.

“He gave me a chance,” said Gibson. “He was honest, fair and knowledgeable and that’s all a player can ask for.”

“But I could see that new players were going to be joining the club because even then it was possibly the biggest club in the country.”

“We had a frank discussion. He wasn’t keen on me leaving but I explained I wanted to play regularly and detested reserve team football.

“He wished me well.”

However, Gibson is adamant he wouldn’t trade his time at Wimbledon to have been part of Ferguson’s success.

He said: “I treasure my FA Cup win.

“I’m proud that I played for United but I’m more proud than ever that I won an FA Cup final with Wimbledon and particularly that group of players.

“It’s how your life works out. I certainly don’t look back and wish I’d stayed.”

Still, Gibson is unequivocal in his admiration for Ferguson’s longevity at United.

“It’s incredible the man’s been there that long – it seems like a previous life.

“Most players go from club to club or managers get the sack. I’ve probably had 10 managers in my career.

“You see someone like Ryan Giggs who’s still playing, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes – they’ve only ever had one manager.”

Gibson has been in touch with Ferguson since and his old manager is always willing to lend a hand, especially when he became a coach.

He was assistant manager to Sanchez at Wycombe Wanderers, where the pair almost repeated their FA Cup heroics but lost 2-1 to Liverpool in a 2001 semi-final.

Gibson said: “He allowed us to use the training ground at United when we were travelling for matches up north.

“Whenever you left a message he always got back to you and helped out.”

But while Ferguson enjoys his silver jubilee, Gibson will be celebrating his own in a couple of years – the 25-year anniversary of Wimbledon’s FA Cup triumph.

He said: “Hopefully there’ll be some sort of arrangement there where we try to get together.”






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