Despite his 21 years of unparalleled success as manager of Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson has contended with the criticism that his side has been relatively unsuccessful in Europe. There was victory in the now defunct European Cup Winners' Cup in 1991, and the famous last-gasp Champions League win over Bayern Munich eight years later, but the fact remained that the number of United's European Cup successes still paled in comparison with those of Real Madrid (nine titles), AC Milan (seven) and Liverpool (five).
Now that United's European Cup tally has risen to a more than respectable three, Kevin Garside views in Ferguson's newest triumph "a certain reassurance in seeing a life's work rewarded." He compares the Scot with his counterpart at Chelsea, Avram Grant, and says that a victory for the London side "would have offended the notion that the Champions League, the greatest prize in club football, required time and effort to win. Ferguson shaped his team. Grant inherited his."
Ferguson will want more European titles before he retires. "This team are in their infancy. Scan the Continent. Wherein lies the threat? The giants of Italy and Spain are sleeping -- Barcelona in decline, AC Milan too. Madrid are in retreat from the Galactico culture. The dangers are domestic, but in the current cycle, Ronaldo and co are pre-eminent."