The former Manchester United boss says football’s cyclical nature will soon put an end to Spanish sides’ reign at the top of European football
Spanish football’s dominance of Europe will come to an end when Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are no longer the best on the planet, according to Sir Alex Ferguson
Between Real Madrid, Atletico and Barcelona, Spanish sides have taken up five of six slots across the last three Champions League finals, with Los Blancos winning twice and the Catalan side winning it for the fourth time since 2006. Meanwhile, Sevilla have won each of the last three Europa League titles, and Atletico lifted the crown in 2010 and 2012.
That spell follows on from a period of four finals in which at least one English team was represented, but Premier League sides have struggled of late. While there are four Spanish sides still in European competition at the quarter-final stage, Leicester and Manchester United are the only English teams left.
A large part of Spain’s success has been down to the exploits of Ronaldo and Messi, who continue to dominate the individual awards as two of the most decisive players around.
And former United boss Ferguson believes La Liga’s spell at the top will wind down when the Madrid and Barca icons start to fade.
“I think success is cyclical,” he told ESPN. “If you think about the 90s, it was AC Milan. In the 70s, Ajax and Bayern Munich. In the 80s; Liverpool. In the 90s; Italy, AC Milan. Then England had a great spell with three teams about six years ago all in the semi-final. We [Man United] were in three finals in four years.
“[Now] the domain is in Spain. There’s no question about that. The same question could be asked about why are the German teams, why are Bayern Munich not winning the Champions League? Why are the Italians not winning it? Why are the French not winning it? And why are the English not winning it?
“I think the moment, the cycle is with the Spanish teams. They’re the best, and that’s why they’re winning it. But that will change, that can change. Cristiano Ronaldo will get older, Lionel Messi will get older. Can they replace these players? I think the cycle will change.”
Ferguson spent over 27 years in charge of United, bringing a long spell of consistent success. Such long reigns in spell of one team are almost unheard of now and he says it is down to the preparation young coaches put in.
“I had great energy, and I sacrificed a lot – my kids would grow up with my wife, and the role she played was really important,” he added. “I didn’t need any motivation. You don’t need motivation at Manchester United. The history of that club is enough. So I enjoyed a fantastic spell.
“Today I think a lot of players don’t make their mind up that they want to stay in the game until it’s too late. In other words, they don’t have a rounded preparation like I did. They maybe take their badges at 32, 33 and then they expect to managers two or three years later.
“It’s a result industry. It’s a serious result industry. You have to win games and if you don’t have the proper preparation like I did, and a lot of coaches did, you’re going to suffer.
“And of course the other side, as opposed to when I started, was that you have different owners. They have owners from all over the world, with different ambitions – there’s a lack of patience in that respect. But you really need to be prepared to stay in the game. That’s the most important message I could give them all.”