During an informal conversation with this correspondent last week, a senior Indian cricket board member had been reminiscing about the BCCI\u2019s \u2018glorious past\u2019 while lamenting the \u2018present doldrums\u2019. Naturally, the late Jagmohan Dalmiya and N Srinivasan\u2014the two most influential administrators in contemporary Indian cricket\u2014became the central figures of the subject. \u201cMr Dalmiya was a leader who believed in dialogue and negotiations to get the job done. Mr Srinivasan was a boss whose mantra was \u2018my way or the highway\u2019,\u201d the BCCI member said. Apologies for such a lengthy cricketing prelude for a column that is dedicated to the greatest manager in the history of football. Argumentative minds can throw Helenio Herrera, Rinus Michels, Brian Clough, Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola into the mix. But Sir Alex Ferguson outshines them all by dint of his longevity, consistency and achievements. But back to the cricketing intro for a football story, and the board member was just trying to explain how leaders are essentially very good at man-management. During his 26-and-a-half-year tenure at Manchester United, Ferguson became the most decorated manager in the British game, winning 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, four League Cups and two European Cups. Add the Uefa Cup Winners\u2019 Cup, the Uefa Super Cup, the Intercontinental Cup and the Fifa Club World Cup to the tally and the legend grows exponentially. He had eight highly successful and trophy-laden years at Aberdeen also before joining United. In Scotland, he broke the Celtic and Rangers\u2019 hegemony. In England, he knocked Liverpool off their perch and created a United dynasty which Ferguson\u2019s former assistant Brian Kidd described as \u201cunreal\u201d. Fergie\u2019s boys would still speak about the man-management skills of their manager\/mentor while narrating a great success story. Michael Carrick, the current United captain, would hang up his boots after playing against Watford on Sunday. Ahead of the fixture, the 36-year-old recalled how his former manager used to shut him out of the side until it started raining. \u201cAt the start of the season, for about three years in a row, he used to tell me, \u2018you don\u2019t play well until it starts raining\u2019. \u201cAt the time, I was thinking, \u2018What is he talking about?\u2019 But then, you\u2019d get in the team around September or October. I\u2019d miss the first four to six weeks and then once I got in the team, I always pretty much stayed in the team,\u201d Carrick told ESPN FC. Ferguson signed the midfielder from Tottenham Hotspur in 2006 and Carrick would call time on his playing career as a United legend. His tribute to his erstwhile boss continued: \u201cWhat a man! He was a massive, massive influence on me personally, not so much what he sat down and said to me but more the aura that he had, the feelings that he gave out and the culture that had produced at United when I came into that dressing room. His relentless will to win, again and again, was unbelievable.\u201d Wayne Rooney had a fall-out with Ferguson during their time together at Old Trafford. The former England captain twice threatened to quit the club, asking for pay rise. The old-school Ferguson put his foot down. For over 26 years, nobody was bigger than him at the club. Even the superstars had accepted that. Rooney, though, had a tendency to \u2018walk on the wild side\u2019 and Ferguson never liked it. The two eventually patched up their differences and on his Sky Sports\u2019 Monday Night Football debut three months ago, Rooney was reverential towards his former manager. \u201cAs a manager, he was the best, but his man-management was something which a lot of other managers would struggle to match. \u201cHe knew how to speak to players, how to get a reaction. He\u2019s the only manager that could leave someone out and make them feel good about it. He was incredible,\u201d United\u2019s most successful centre-forward said. When Ferguson arrived at Old Trafford in 1986, the biggest challenge he faced was the drinking culture at the club. Norman Whiteside and Paul McGrath severely tested the patience of their disciplinarian boss until the latter gave up. Ferguson was on a rocky road then and the two players had been the crowd favourite. But the manager refused to budge and Whiteside and McGrath had to, much to the chagrin of the United faithful. As Ferguson suffered brain hemorrhage and underwent an emergency surgery, McGrath wrote on Instagram: \u201cJust heard about Sir Alex, my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. If anyone can pull through this it will be the man himself\u2026\u201d Whiteside\u2019s post on Twitter said: \u201cSuch sad news to hear about my former manager Sir Alex. Get well soon boss\u2026\u201d This just speaks volumes for the honesty and commitment Ferguson showed towards his club and the players. He never meant any harm to anyone. All his football decisions had been aimed at United\u2019s well-being. People respected him even in animosity. Ferguson had several run-ins with his players, fellow managers, match officials and the FA. But he was the first on the phone to then Liverpool player-manager Kenny Dalglish after Hillsborough, offering help. He was always the first one to stand by a player in crisis or extend support to a sacked manager. Ferguson had created an aura of indestructibility around himself, which, in turn, offered assurance to a lot of people associated to football and beyond. This aura of invincibility and indestructibility on the pitch has been a reason why his sudden illness sent such shockwaves around the world. Ferguson is now out of intensive care and recovering. Good news is that it\u2019s likely to be a \u2018Fergie time\u2019 winner in this case also. But the reaction and the spontaneous overflow of feelings showed that even after five years of his retirement from active football, the great man from Govan remains the universe boss.