THIS sounds terribly arrogant, I know, but I've always felt I had a few things in common with Sir Alex Ferguson.
We were born within seven months of one another during the Second World War, we’ve both got a few grey hairs, we’re both passionately in love with our jobs and we both possess a hairdryer.
Now for the differences. He uses the hairdryer more than me and his bank account is definitely more healthy.
Fergie, is without doubt the most successful manager in British football – arguably the best of all time and his longevity in the job is nothing short of remarkable.
Last week some statistician, who must have had nothing better to do in a boring moment, worked out that getting on for 1,000 managers have been sacked in the time Ferguson has been at the helm at Manchester United.
But not even this wizened old Scottish fox can go on for ever, so I began to wonder who will take over the mantle and what makes the successful SUCCESSFUL.
In the cases of Bill Shankly, Brian Clough, Don Revie, even Sir Alf Ramsey I always reckoned it was the fear they instilled in players – respect to the point of not daring to fail on their behalf.
Yet there were exceptions to this rule, men who preferred gentle persuasion like Bob Paisley and Bertie Mee.
With that in mind I put forward the names of Martin O’Neill, David Moyes, Nigel Clough and Sean O’Driscoll.
For my money O’Neill is the best in the business – though I might not suggest as much if I were in the presence of Sir Alex!
Passionate to the point of being obsessive, O’Neill endears himself to fans because of his touchline antics, and although some of his players might have private reservations, they know he is good for them.
That’s why he’s as close to a modern day Clough as it’s possible to get.
Clough junior is cutting his teeth at Derby County but is giving off all the right vibes.
Moyes has a record that speaks for itself. Everton may not be the prettiest team in the Premiership but they get results, even when they don’t have a recognised striker in the team, and Moyes at last seems to be procuring a level of consistency from his charges.
Which leaves me with O’Driscoll.
What a contradiction in terms is the manager of Doncaster Rovers.
The antithesis of the archetypal manager O’Driscoll is softly spoken to the point of being inaudible, and I suspect Gordon Ramsey swears more in a second than he has in his whole life, but O’Driscoll somehow conjures up performances and results from a group of players who must have utter belief in him.
After a shaky start to life in the Championship the South Yorkshire club is carrying all before them – 19 points out of 21 – and if they keep on like this they’ll be a decent tip for promotion next season.
O’Driscoll may be hard work for the media, but in the same thoughtful way Howard Wilkinson put together successful units at Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds, he lets his teams do the talking for him – and you can’t argue with that.
Liles – the unsung hero of the Hawks
RUGBY League is awash with unsung heroes. Men like Grahame Liles of Hunslet Hawks.
For years Grahame has pumped in money to keep a grand old club alive.
It’s fine and dandy to recall that Hunslet, in their traditional myrtle, flame and white jerseys, won the Challenge Cup in 1908 and 1934 and were twice Championship winners as well, but memories don’t pay the bills.
Hunslet must have been on the verge of closure many a time, but Grahame and a few good friends have baled them out repeatedly and have insisted that the club’s debts would be honoured.
So here they are again going into a new season with Grahame as optimistic as ever despite last year finishing bottom after winning just four games.
“I think we’ll be all right. We’ve signed three players from Papua New Guinea Nicko Slain, Charlie Wabo and Michael Mark and all the signs are positive,” he says.
Here’s wishing the South Sea islanders all the best – Port Moresby’s going to seem a long way, away on a wintry afternoon in Workington!