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My Favourite Three: Sir Alex Ferguson signings; Hughes, Stam, Pallister

Sir Alex Ferguson started managing Manchester United on the 6th November 1986 and despite it taking until 1990 for him to win his first trophy, it was a turbulent time for the Scotsman who had his own discontent to deal with after sections of supporters demanding he was sacked, which would have been the worst mistake in the club’s history, a mistake which was visited after the gaffer retired at the end of the 2012/13 season, appointing former Everton manager David Moyes, a guy who was sacked just nine months later. During Ferguson’s near 27-year reign of the club, he made some great signings and some not so great signings. I will talk about my three favourite Sir Alex Ferguson signings…

Mark Hughes

Many may not see Mark Hughes as a Sir Alex Ferguson signing being that he came through the club’s Academy and played for the first team from 1980, making his debut in the 1983/84 season, until 1986 when he was sold to Barcelona for £2 million, a big fee for a player back then, in fact in today’s money, Hughes transfer to the Catalan club would have cost more than £5.5 million today, still not a big fee for the player United got back, but it was a bargain. Ferguson paid £1.8 million for Hughes in 1988, just two years after he left the Old Trafford club, making £200,000 in that time from the fee Barcelona paid for the Welshman. In his first stint at United, playing in three seasons, Hughes made a total of 121 appearances, scoring 47 goals. In his second stint, after Ferguson re-signed him, Hughes made 352 appearances, scoring 116 goals, leaving the club for Chelsea in the summer of 1995. During his time at United, Hughes won many trophies including two Premier League titles, the FA Cup three times, one League Cup, three FA Charity Shield’s – two shared, one UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup and one UEFA Super Cup. Post-Chelsea, Southampton, Everton and Blackburn Rovers, Hughes went into management, managing Wales, Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City, Fulham, Queens Park Rangers and he is currently in charge of Stoke City.

Jaap Stam

Yip Jaap Stam is a big Dutchman was what was heard from the terraces at Old Trafford and beyond when the Dutchman played for Manchester United between 1998 and 2001. Stam was one of the best central defenders the club had in the modern era and he was tough to replace, not to mention the way he left the club which made it so much harder. The bad blood between Ferguson and Stam has been sorted out, so that won’t become a factor of this article. Stam was a favourite of mine, he was a no-nonsense defender, one who protected his area and most of the time got the better of his opposition. Stam cost United £10.6 million in 1998, the year United started their best ever season, ending it with the treble. Stam would have cost £17.7 million in today’s money, which is dwarfed by the recent transfer fees of Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof who cost United upwards of £30 million a time, but in the modern era, fees are very much different. Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand were the best defenders since Stam, with Bailly coming close after just one season. Stam is now managing Reading, a team which just missed out on a promotion to the Premier League, beaten by Huddersfield Town in the Championship play-off final in May.

Gary Pallister

Gary Pallister was also a favourite of mine, much in the respect of Stam, he did what he needed to do and did not expect to be a major star of the side, which is much different to today’s game where most players seem to have ego’s, even if they are not considered very good. Gone are the days where you will see a footballer mix with us normal folk, which is a shame – there seems to be a divide. I have met Pallister a few times and he is a true gent and loves talking to United supporters, well any supporter really. He has some great stories to tell, which makes him down to earth as many players of his time were. Pallister signed for Ferguson’s United from Middlesbrough in 1989, the year before Ferguson won his first trophy for the Old Trafford club, for just £2.3 million – about £5.5 million today – an absolute bargain, breaking the national record for a defender. Pallister won four Premier League titles, lifted the FA Cup three times, the League Cup once, the FA Charity Shield five times (shared once), the UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup once and the UEFA Super Cup once. Pallister left United in 1998, nearly ten years after he signed for the Old Trafford club, heading back to Middlesbrough for £2.5 million, with Ferguson again making £200,000 profit on the player he brought to the club nine years before.

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