Only the stubborn and the stupid don’t rate Peterborough United manager Darren Ferguson
The phone call 12 years ago came out of the blue.
Have you heard who the new Posh manager is?’ Shamefully, as I’m supposed to know these things, I admitted I hadn’t.
‘It’s Darren Ferguson,” my excited friend told me. ‘Do you think he got the job because of who his dad is?’
Again, shamefully, I thought he probably had. My knowledge of Darren was limited to his ability as a skilful midfield technician in the lower divisions with Wrexham FC.
A quick google told me he’d coached the Welsh club’s under 15s. Not the normal route into the hurly-burly of League Two football, especially to manage a team who had lost seven games on the bounce.
Ah well maybe we’d be able to take advantage of family ties and borrow some players from Manchester United to keep us out of trouble.
My first meeting with Darren dispelled that theory. He’d be his own man, doing things his own way. They’d be successful by playing attractive football at a decent tempo.
Good luck with that I thought as his first team selection - a 1-0 defeat at Lincoln - included Guy Branston and Ben Futcher. He sent on Shane Huke and Simon Yeo to try and salvage a draw.
Again, shamefully, I couldn’t see a quirky left-field appointment working out.
How wrong I was. Over a dozen years later, and after 400 games in three spells as manager, only the stubborn and the stupid could deny that Ferguson is right up there with Chris Turner and Jimmy Hagan as the best bosses in Posh history.
Some say he was lucky to inherit some fine players and it’s true Keith Alexander should be applauded for bringing Aaron Mclean and George Boyd to London Road and for setting up the deal that delivered Craig Mackail-Smith.
But does anyone seriously think they would have flourished in the same way under Alexander as they did under Ferguson? Just ask the ‘Holy Trinity’ themselves what they think of Ferguson the mentor and coach. I have. They all expressed unreserved gratitude.
Three promotions, twice into the Championship, demands a legend status even if he was also part of two relegations from the second tier.
Of course owner Darragh MacAnthony’s wealth was a big factor, particularly in those early days, but money by itself guarantees nothing. Ask Fulham fans about last season.
It’s a different Darren Ferguson now. He’s mellowed with age and experience, but that just makes him the perfect man to control another young group of Posh players.
There’s not a lot he hasn’t experienced, from the high of winning promotion on his father’s home turf at Old Trafford to the despair of that final day defeat at Crystal Palace which scuppered the attemped ‘Great Escape’ from relegation.
I’m not convinced a fourth promotion will arrive this season without a January transfer window boost, but I do believe it will happen in time, as long as patience, if required, is shown.