Rob Marrs says something true and important:
Ferguson has more in common with the likes of Busby, Stein, Shankly and Paisley than he does with most of today's managers.
This hints at a significant fact about the truly great managers in British football - that they were socialized into a collectivist culture. Very many - Stein, Shankly, Busby and before them Herbert Chapman - came from mining communities and almost all others such as Ferguson, Cullis or Revie from classic northern working class backgrounds.
I stress that word "culture" because I'm referring to something deeper than trivial political beliefs - although it's no coincidence that so many great managers from Clough and Stein to Ferguson and Wenger have had socialist sympathies.
I don't think Jose Mourinho represents a counter-example here, as he was brought up under a different form of collectivist culture, that of Portuguese fascism.
As for why this should be, there might be a selection effect. Opportunities for bright lads from working class backgrounds are limited, so football management is one of the few ways in which exceptional men can achieve prominence.
But there's something else at work.It's that a collectivist culture is necessary to build a team; a team is not about 11 individuals, and a working class (or Fascist!) upbringing inculcates a belief in collective effort. Here's Mourinho:.
I hate to speak about individuals. Players don’t win you trophies, teams win trophies, squads win trophies.
The socialism I believe in is everybody working for the same goal and everybody having a share in the rewards. That's how I see football, that's how I see life.
And here's an account of Revie at Leeds:
Revie also created brotherly spirit among the squad. 'Our whole ethos was built on loyalty,' Lorimer says. 'We all fight for each other, we all work for each other. If someone kicks me, he kicks all 11 of us.'
I say all this for three reasons.
First, this suggests a reason why top English football managers are so scarce; the collectivist culture which contributes to their success has disappeared. Remember, no Englishman has managed a title-winning team since 1992, and none born south of the Trent has done so since Alf Ramsey in 1962.
Secondly, all this hints at a colossal waste of talent not just years ago but perhaps even today. How many people from poor areas had intelligence and organizational skills like our great football managers, but lacked the opportunities to exercise them?
Thirdly, if a collectivist mindset is conducive to success in football, why should it not be so in other organizations? Most company managers come from a very different culture from our great football managers. Could it be that, because of this, they are missing something? Yes, Harvard Business School has made a case study of Sir Alex. But is it possible to teach what he knows? Or is it that his success rests in part upon the tacit knowledge embedded into a culture which has largely died out?
A caveat: Bill Nicholson might be an exception here, as he played for the Young Liberals in Scarborough. But he managed S***s, so can be discounted.