Sir Alex Ferguson has always been one step ahead of the game.
Even his decision to retire from management took everyone by surprise.
But Fergie had humble beginnings. After spending three months in charge of East Stirlingshire, he moved to St Mirren, a club he could really get his teeth into.
The Saints were toiling in the Second Division but had the potential to attract big crowds.
When he took over, the Paisley club were below his former team in the League table.
Failure to record a victory in the first three matches saw Fergie dip into the transfer market.
And one of the men who got his new side on the march was another member of the Ferguson clan.
Sir Alex had been a team-mate of Bert Ferguson at Ayr United and believed he could help fire St Mirren up the table.
Bert recalls: “He’d been great to play with at Ayr. He and John ‘Spud’ Murphy both took young players under their wing.
“I was reserve right-winger to Johnny Doyle, but played in the first team for several months after he broke his leg.
“As soon as he’d recovered, Ally MacLeod put Johnny back in the team.
“Johnny was a great player but he was still limping and I was cheesed off at not playing.
“So Ally phoned Fergie and asked him if he’d like to sign me.
“He was looking for more goals and I was recruited along with Donny McDowell and Alan Munro.”
That three-pronged attack led St Mirren to their first win under Fergie. Bert scored after 10 minutes against Albion Rovers, with Munro bagging a brace and McDowell completing the scoring.
Bert continues: “He used coaching methods that a lot of the older players found hard to take on board.
“He was way ahead of his time.
“I remember him bringing some German coaches to do sessions at Love Street. We’d never seen anything like it.
“He was incredibly driven but always made sure he took care of his players.”
Bert and the boys helped St Mirren achieve the top-six finish they needed to secure a place in the new First Division.
It was a major turning point in Ferguson’s managerial career.
Bert recalls: “After two seasons he took me in and said: ‘I can never repay you for what you’ve done, but I’m bringing through young boys and can’t guarantee you a game.
“Fergie was bringing in players like Tony Fitzpatrick, Frank McGarvey and Billy Stark.
“I should have said I was staying to fight for my place. I didn’t and he said: ‘Right, I’m freeing you’.
“He did, however, help me to get a move to Stranraer.”
Bert Ferguson went on to become a Scottish Junior internationalist and a champion amateur golfer.
Sir Alex might not have achieved so much without him.
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