If there was a poll to decide who is the greatest football manager of all time, then it is fair to say that Sir Alex Ferguson may well come out on top.
His achievements at Aberdeen and Manchester United were breathtaking and will probably never be equalled.
He presided over the greatest period in Aberdeen’s history, winning three titles and the Cup Winners Cup as well as four Scottish Cups and the League Cup in an astonishing six-year period.
His achievements at Old Trafford were equally staggering, winning 13 league titles, two Champions League crowns, the Cup Winners Cup, five FA Cups and the League Cup four times.
However, according to his long-time right-hand man Archie Knox, he would not be able to dislodge Brendan Rodgers’ invincibles from their lofty perch at the top of the Scottish game if he was in charge of either Aberdeen or Rangers.
Knox, also Walter Smith’s lieutenant in the nine-in-a-row era at Rangers, simply cannot see a way for the Ibrox side or Aberdeen to challenge properly unless they recruit the same level of player. He said: “Sir Alex would struggle if he was in charge of Rangers or Aberdeen going in against the current Celtic team.
“Unless you have the players and you recruit well or be lucky enough to have good players then you are not going to do it.
“For Rangers to get back to what they once were then they need to have the same level of player as Celtic and they have better players – it is not rocket science
“It will be a major task to knock Celtic off their perch at the moment.
“I don’t see anybody doing that in the near future although I think Aberdeen might run them close this season
“There is no question that Celtic can deliver at the moment. There is no question about that.
“The level of player that Brendan Rodgers is bringing, getting the likes of Patrick Roberts back and Kieran Tierney being a phenomenal player, Stuart Armstrong improving all the time and Leigh Griffiths scoring goals as he does and having six players in the Scotland team is great for Celtic.
“You never know but I don’t know enough about the players at Rangers. Whether those players can come in and lift Rangers, I am not sure.
“What I will say is that they have to win their next two league games before they play Celtic.”
Knox, who was launching his autobiography The School of Hard Knox, has fatefully worked for three clubs at the best periods in their history and was still working as recently as 2013 as assistant to Craig Brown at Aberdeen.
He knows he has been fortunate but you do not work at such a level for so long if you do not possess a number of qualities. Knox, who had managed Forfar after retiring from playing, got his big break when Ferguson recruited him at Pittodrie in 1980.
He said: “I think Jim McLean had a huge influence on that. When Pat Stanton left and Alex was looking for something else, Alex and Jim were quite close, and I knew Jim from playing at Dundee United.
“It’s a case of being in the right place at the right time. There are hundreds of people like me that just never got that opportunity, and I’ll be eternally grateful for getting that opportunity.”
Knox left the Dons in 1983 to manage Dundee but was back again in 1986 and then moved with Ferguson to Old Trafford where he stayed until 1991, when Walter Smith lured him to Ibrox where he was involved in winning seven of the nine in a row titles and the recruitment of some fantastic players. He added: “I went to look at Michael Laudrup in 1994 and I came back and said to Walter, ‘We’ve got people who can play in his position but we don’t have people that can play Brian’s position’. And that’s how we got Brian Laudrup
“It was the same with Marco Negri. Sven Goran Eriksson was with Parma at the time and I went to watch his training and I told him that I was going to look at Filippo Maniero at Verona. I said, ‘We’re looking for a goalscorer.’ He said, ‘Perugia – Marco Negri – goalscorer. He’s better than Maniero’.
“I have hundreds of great moments in football. The ones that stick out obviously are the Cup Winners’ Cup with Aberdeen, the FA Cup with Manchester United, winning nine in a row with Rangers, although I was only there for seven.
“And I was in charge at Dens when Hearts lost the league on goal difference in 1986.
“It’s been phenomenal. I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”
l The School of Hard Knox, published by Arena Sport, is out now and available from all good bookshops and online at www.arenasportbooks.co.uk