United's success has been the catalyst for other clubs raising their own game which thus produces a more competitive Premier League, says Sir Alex.
'English football is in a much better place than it was 27 years ago,' Sir Alex Ferguson — one of the most revered managers in British history along with Bob Paisley, Brian Clough, Jock Stein, Alf Ramsey and Herbert Chapman — stated recently, as per the end-of-season review released by the Premier League earlier this week.
Ferguson looks at the improvements in facilities (both in terms of stadia and training grounds), the education of young footballers in control, skill and sports science, the marketing of the Premier League product and the sale of it's distribution rights as glaring evidence as to how far the game has come since he first took charge of Manchester United in 1986.
'Across the leagues, stadiums weren't what they should have been, the development of players was nowhere near as advanced as it is now, those controlling the game couldn't give the TV rights away, fans weren't treated properly and what interest there was in football from government was negative.
'There are some with rose-tinted glasses who think football was great a generation ago, but nostalgia plays strange tricks with the mind. Back then, football's role in the cultural makeup of the country was arguably in decline. It was a great shame given the joy and life-affirming attributes it gives to me and thousands of others, week in, week out.'
Manchester United, during Ferguson's 27-year tenure, have been one of the most dominant sporting institutions. With two Champions League successes, two minor European titles, five FA Cups and an astonishing 13 Premier League crowns, there are few teams or individuals in all of sports who enjoyed a similar track record for as long a time*.
Sir Alex says it is because of that success, coupled to United's trailblazing growth, that has elevated the country's other clubs as they mirror the Red Devils' development.
'Manchester United, perhaps more than any other club, has symbolised the transformation of the English game during the Premier League years. The club's commitment to investment at every level shines through.
'Top class players, both purchased and developed; wonderful facilities at Old Trafford and Carrington for players and fans; community programmes that place us at the heart of the community locally and farther afield - the club has set a standard in the Premier League that others strive to better.
'Sometimes they manage to! Those challenges, season after season, spur the best on to be better. The quality and entertainment of the football in the Premier League has increased year on year. It was always getting harder to go out and win the title, to find the right mix of players - youth, experience and attitude.'
Ferguson, though, will no longer be able to add to his legacy at managerial level, having handed the reins and the saddle to compatriot David Moyes, formerly of Everton. Reflecting, Ferguson admitted he will 'miss' the touchline drama but, 'as a fan' will continue to be delighted by the competition in England's top division.
*Darts ace Phil 'The Power' Taylor, long-reigning super middleweight pugilist Joe Calzaghe and superbike star Carl Fogarty have had similar longevity in British history.
Is Ferguson right? Are Manchester United responsible for other clubs raising their own game on and off the pitch? Or have Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City also played a part? Tell us in the comments below…
image: © Andrea Sartorati