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If not for Ferguson...

I have been waiting for this day for a long time because it was obvious that until Sir Alex retired Liverpool would struggle to win the Premier League. If not for Ferguson, Liverpool would have won the 2001 and 2009 titles.

I am sure many Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham fans will feel the way I do. When my colleague, Clyde, started tweeting about him, it didn’t take long for me to find my topic -“If not for Alex Ferguson”.

Don’t get me wrong there. I am a lifelong Liverpool fan and definitely not one to want to find anything good about Manchester United but you have to admit, Sir Alex Ferguson is the greatest football manager who ever lived.

He has been a colossus and an incredible one at that. If not for Ferguson, Liverpool would still have the most titles. In 2001, Liverpool won a unique treble, the Carling Cup, FA cup and Uefa Cup but Ferguson spoiled the party by leading United to another league title.

When you grow up like I did, supporting Liverpool, you learn to hate all things United. After all, they call themselves devils and annoyingly stole our red by being addressed as “Red Devils”. However, I admired Sir Alex for his work at Aberdeen where he led a team that included Willie Miller, Alex Mcleish and Gordon Strachan to win the European Cup Winners Cup. I loved Aberdeen because they wore red.

When he coached Scotland to the Mexico ‘86 World Cup, I hoped he would stay on. Then he joined United, so you can imagine my agony. Liverpool had 18 League titles when the Premier League started in ‘92. United had seven. We had four European Cup titles. United had one title they won in ‘68 and they never stopped talking about it.

Newcastle would have won the Premier League in the 1995/96 season, if not for Ferguson. That has to be one of the most outrageous title races and Newcastle led for so long, just like Liverpool in 2009, but Sir Alex, being the master of mind games, wound up Kevin Keegan and they imploded.

Newcastle fans would never forget 1995/96 and 1996/97 because, if not for Ferguson, their all-star team of David Ginola, Les Ferdinand, Philippe Albert and Faustino Asprilla, coached by Kevin Keegan, would have won the Premier League.

Who will forget his many battles with Arsene Wenger? Arsene Wenger gave the best response to Ferguson’s attitude towards other managers.

“Ferguson does what he wants and you (the press) are all down at his feet. He doesn't interest me and doesn't matter to me at all. I will never answer to any provocation from him anymore," he said.

"He has lost all sense of reality. He is going out looking for a confrontation, then asking the person he is confronting to apologise."

That is what I will miss about Ferguson. His ability to confront referees, assistant referees and fourth officials and wind up opposing managers really made my day anytime United played. He was the grand master of mind games.

When Arsene Wenger achieved his second double in 2002, Sir Alex had this to say about Wenger. "He never comes for a drink with the opposing manager after matches. He's the only manager in the Premiership not to do so. It is a tradition here. It would be good for him to accept the tradition."

Let’s look at the top four positions in the table since the start of the Premier League and you will see that, when United won the title, Arsenal were either runners-up or third place.

If only Ferguson had retired 12 years ago, maybe Arsenal fans would not be complaining of going so long without a title.

Season Champions Runners-Up
1992/1993 Manchester United Aston Villa
1993/1994 Manchester United Blackburn Rovers
1994/1995 Blackburn Rovers Manchester United
1995/1996 Manchester United Newcastle United
1996/1997 Manchester United Newcastle United
1997/1998 Arsenal Manchester United
1998/1999 Manchester United Arsenal
1999/2000 Manchester United Arsenal
2000/2001 Manchester United Arsenal
2001/2002 Arsenal Liverpool
2002/2003 Manchester United Arsenal
2003/2004 Arsenal Chelsea
2004/2005 Chelsea Arsenal
2005/2006 Chelsea Manchester United
2006/2007 Manchester United Chelsea
2007/2008 Manchester United Chelsea
2008/2009 Manchester United Liverpool
2009/2010 Chelsea Manchester United
2010/2011 Manchester United Chelsea
2011/2012 Manchester City Manchester United
2012/2013 Manchester United TBD

I take my hat off to Sir Alex - the man, the legend and the enigma. He leaves United and they have 20 League titles and three European Cup/Champions League titles. Liverpool still have 18 League titles and five Euro titles - two more than United. That's my consolation.

If not for Ferguson, the Premier League would not be so dramatic. Sir Alex defined it for 21 years and, despite new advances in coaching and technology, always found a way to defy logic and remained competitive till the end.

The big question now is if Manchester United will still be dominant after Alex Ferguson?

What do you think?

You can follow me on Twitter: @EmekaEnyadike

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