By Ben Hayward
European football was distinctly different in 1986. Following the Heysel disaster in which 39 fans lost their lives, English clubs were unable to compete in continental competitions at all for a five-year period beginning in 1985. But when they returned, Sir Alex Ferguson led Manchester United to a European trophy at the first time of asking, beating Barcelona in the final of the Cup Winners' Cup in 1990-91. It was the start of a special story for both manager and club.
But while Ferguson, who announced on Tuesday that he will retire at the end of the current campaign, has managed United for over 26 years, European football's other great clubs have undergone numerous coaching changes since 1986.
|FERGIE'S EUROPEAN RIVALS SINCE 1986
Back in 1986, Dutchman Leo Beenhakker was in charge of Madrid's fabled Quinta del Buitre, while current coach Jose Mourinho is one of 24 coaching changes at the Santiago Bernabeu since Sir Alex moved from Aberdeen to United over 26 years ago.
At Inter, meanwhile, Giovanni Trapattoni was beginning his reign at San Siro following a 10-year period in charge of Juventus. How times have changed.
The great Udo Lattek was still coach at Bayern Munich in 1986, with 17 men having followed since then. And Pep Guardiola will be the 18th when he takes over from Jupp Heynckes (now in his third spell with the Bundesliga giants) this summer.
Back in 1986, Guardiola was a young player progressing at La Masia, still several years away from making his first-team debut at Barcelona - let alone coaching the Catalan club. The former Spain midfielder would go on to get the better of Ferguson in two Champions League finals in 2009 and 2011.
Guardiola's mentor Johan Cruyff (whose Dream Team lost out to Ferguson's United in the 1991 Cup Winners' Cup final) had yet to seal his switch to the Blaugrana bench when the Scot moved to Manchester in November, 1986. Then, the Dutchman was still at Ajax, one of 18 coaches at the Amsterdam club during Sir Alex's reign at Old Trafford. And the latest incumbent, Frank de Boer, was a promising 16-year-old sweeper at the Ajax academy back when Ferguson moved to England.
Cruyff and Guardiola are two of 14 men to have been in charge of Barcelona during the last 26 years, with the former in charge for eight seasons between 1988 and 1996, and the latter's successful spell spanning four campaigns from 2008 to 2012.
AC Milan have also been led by 14 men in that same time frame, although Fabio Capello was in charge for three separate spells at San Siro (briefly in 1987, then between 1991 and 1996, before a sole season in 1997-98).
Juventus, meanwhile, have had 15 coaches since their 10 years with Trapattoni between 1976 and 1986, including the veteran coach himself, who returned to Turin between 1991 and 1994.
Despite his 26-year reign, Ferguson is not the longest-serving coach in Europe's elite competitions, however. Guy Roux coached Auxerre for 44 years between 1961 and 2005, having previously played for the French side in the lower leagues.
Ferguson will be succeeded at United by Everton boss David Moyes, who has spent the last 11 years at Goodison Park and was the third-longest serving coach in the Premier League, behind Sir Alex and Arsenal's Arsene Wenger.
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