Back to the Future: What if Sir Alex Ferguson was sacked in 1990?
It’s January 7 1990, New Kids on the Block are the first number one of the decade with Hangin’ Tough, the leaning tower of Pisa is closed for the first time in 800 years, and Margaret Thatcher has just entered her final year as Prime Minister…
To celebrate Back to the Future day – the exact date Marty McFly and the Doc wound up in in the second installment of the series, we’re having a look at how things might have panned out should one moment have gone a little differently.
Back to January 1990. In Nottingham, an under fire Scottish boss of a sleeping footballing giant is rumoured to be on the verge of the sack should his Manchester side fail to win a third round FA Cup tie.
The fans are on Alex Ferguson’s back after just one top-10 finish since taking the Manchester United role in November 1986.
Heading to the City Ground, United are winless in eight matches and pressure is building on the former Aberdeen boss with the club 15th in Division One, two points above the drop zone.
Late in the game Mark Robins heads a Mark Hughes cross – but instead of going in – it hits the post and United don’t win the match. Fergie is sacked.
With no top jobs available in England or Scotland, the former Aberdeen boss bides his time until Kenny Dalglish leaves Liverpool in February 1991.
It’s a toss up between Graham Souness and Fergie for the job. And on paper in this crazy world Souness is actually the favourite thanks to his Liverpool playing career and excellent results in charge of Rangers.
But Souness turns it down, reluctant to leave a good thing at Ibrox, and Alex Ferguson becomes Liverpool manager in 1991.
With Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler and Jamie Redknapp coming up through the ranks, Ferguson begins to build a new-look Liverpool side.
Back in Manchester, the Class of ’92 lack the guidance and direction under new manager Graeme Souness (yep, we’re making that happen) who has left Rangers to take the job available in Manchester due his love of the Stone Roses.
He judges Paul Scholes to be too small to be a footballer and releases him in 1994 without a single appearance for United.
Gary Neville also fails to make the cut while Robbie Savage and Ben Thornley become the focal point of the team. Bryan Robson’s career ends and Roy Keane is never signed due to a feared personality clash with Souness.
Across the M6, Fergie contacts every nightclub in Liverpool and makes sure the Spice Boys never see a hazy 3am ever again.
With a blend of youth reaching their full potential, and the elder statesmen like John Barnes and Ian Rush adapting to new roles Liverpool become a force. Fergie also snaps up Scholes on a free.
After four years of rebuilding, Liverpool are champions of the 1995-1996 Premier League to claim a 19th league crown, with McMananan and Fowler unstoppable.
United struggle with Souness reluctant to put such faith in his youth team, and Paul Ince, Mark Hughes and co can’t keep up the pace as they fade into relative fourth-placed obscurity.
Fergie always said he wanted to put Liverpool back on their perch, right?
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