Man Utd, New England Patriots, Roger Federer and sport’s greatest dynasties

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Across the spectrum, from football to baseball and horse racing to tennis, certain teams and individuals have raised the bar of sporting excellence

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    Manchester United 1992-2013

    Sir Alex Ferguson found himself teetering on the brink at Manchester United in 1990, with only FA Cup success keeping him in a job. Three years later, with the Premier League era opened in English football, the Scot was taking the first steps down a record-breaking path of domestic dominance which is unlikely to be matched.

    Over the course of 20 memorable years at Old Trafford, United landed 13 titles to overtake arch-rivals Liverpool as the most successful side in England. Ferguson’s reign would also deliver a further four FA Cup triumphs, four League Cup successes, the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, UEFA Super Cup, Intercontinental Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and two Champions League crowns.

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    New England Patriots 2001-present

    At the turn of the 21st century, the New England Patriots took two decisions which would lay the foundations on which a truly remarkable era of success would be built. They may not have known it at the time, but appointing Bill Belichik as the team’s new head coach and taking a promising young quarterback by the name of Tom Brady in the 2000 NFL Draft – albeit with the 199th pick – would prove to be sporting masterstrokes.

    Since then, the Brady-Belichik wrecking ball has swept its way to five Super Bowl rings and is readying itself for a ninth appearance in American Football’s showpiece event.

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    Real Madrid 1953-1969

    For the best part of two decades in the 50s and 60s, Real Madrid were virtually untouchable at home and abroad. In an era long before the ‘Galactico’ transfer policy of Florentino Perez, the Blancos were still in the business of acquiring the world’s finest talent within a star-studded squad.

    Among the most notable icons to grace their books during a glittering period of success were Ferenc Puskas, Alfredo Di Stefano and Francesco Gento. Between them, over the course of 16 years, that trio helped Real to 12 Liga titles and six European Cup wins – including a run of five consecutive triumphs between 1956 and 1960.

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    New York Yankees 1923-1932

    In truth, the reign of Yankee dominance in Major League Baseball could have been spread as far as the early 60s, with 20 World Series crowns claimed between 1923 and 1962. It is, however, the era of Babe Ruth which broke down the door for a franchise now so iconic that its brand transcends sport.

    A shock trade with arch-rivals the Boston Red Sox brought ‘The Bambino’ to the Bronx in 1920, and three years later the Yankees sat atop of the baseball world. Ruth would add four titles in total to three previously secured in Boston, with his efforts paving the way for Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Derek Jeter to establish Yankee dynasties of their own in the years to come.

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    Chicago Bulls 1991-1998

    A sporting storm swept into the Windy City back in 1984 when the Chicago Bulls took a certain Michael Jordan with the third overall pick in the NBA Draft. Three years later, Scottie Pippen was plucked from Central Arkansas and two years after that the final piece of the jigsaw was landed as Phil Jackson arrived as coach.

    It took until 1991 for the puzzle to be completed, but from that point there was no looking back. The Bulls swept to three successive NBA Finals wins, before repeating the trick between 1996 and 1998 – with Jordan named MVP in all of those triumphs. MJ headed into the second of three retirements shortly afterwards, while Jackson would go on to oversee another era of dominance at the LA Lakers with Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Co in the 00s.

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    Edmonton Oilers 1983-1990

    Five championships in seven years helped to position the Edmonton Oilers firmly at the pinnacle of the ice hockey world, with their cause aided considerably by the finest player to have ever put stick to puck. Wayne Gretzky was almost superhuman at the peak of his powers, with ‘The Great One’ finishing his career in Edmonton as the all-time leader of post-season goals, assists, points and hat-tricks.

    One of the finest sportsmen of that or any other generation bowed out in 1988, but he had helped to build the strongest of foundations and the Oilers would go on to claim another title in 1990 without the assistance of the GOAT.

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    Boston Celtics 1957-1969

    A truly remarkable run saw the Boston Celtics claim 11 championships in the space of 13 years, with that era of dominance including a run of eight successive titles between 1959 and 1966 and 10 consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals between 1957 and 1966. Bill Russell was the undoubted star of the side, with legendary figures on the books of rival teams regularly put in their place.

    The Celtics would go on to reclaim their position at the top of the pile in the 1980s, with Larry Bird picking up the talisman baton to help secure three titles in six years between 1981 and 1986 and two Finals MVP awards.

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    San Francisco 49ers 1981-1989

    Boasting two Hall of Fame quarterbacks and the greatest wide receiver of all-time is a good way of going about establishing a sporting dynasty, and the San Francisco 49ers dominated the 80s courtesy of Joe Montana, Steve Young and Jerry Rice.

    Over the course of an eight-year stretch, the Californian franchise very much enjoyed their moment in the sun as they swept to eight division titles and four Super Bowl triumphs. The stars of 1988 and 89 made NFL history by becoming the first and only side to secure back-to-back crowns under two different head coaches. 

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    West Indies 1980-1995

    Test cricket had never seen the like of the great West Indies side which swept aside all before them for the best part of two decades. With all-time greats such as Michael Holding, Sir Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Brian Lara and Sir Viv Richards within their ranks, the cream of the Caribbean did not suffer a single Test series defeat over the course of a memorable 15-year period – claiming 20 wins and nine draws.

    From 1975 to 1983, they also appeared in three successive World Cup finals, claiming the trophy on two occasions.

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    New Zealand 2010-present

    The all-conquering New Zealand side of the modern era have taken the art of winning to a new level, with few able to match never mind overcome one of the most fearsome outfits in world sport. A seemingly constant conveyor belt of talent continues to produce truly elite performers, with the All Blacks boasting the kind of experience and squad depth which makes them the envy of their global rivals.

    Back-to-back World Cup successes have been toasted in 2011 and 2015, while the Rugby Championship crown has been secured six times in eight years since 2010 and 12 times since 2002. Steve Hansen’s side also won 18 straight games between August 2015 and October 2016 to set a new benchmark.

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    Roger Federer 2003-present

    It is not just team sports which have experienced memorable eras of domination down the years, with certain individuals showing themselves to be just as capable of monopolising the biggest prizes in the business. Among those is tennis legend Roger Federer, with the Swiss supremo still going strong at the age of 36.

    He recently added another Australian Open title to his enviable roll of honour, with the most successful male player of all-time boasting 20 Grand Slam crowns. Between 2004 and 2007, Federer spent 237 consecutive weeks as world number one, winning 11 of the 17 major titles up for grabs during that period.

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    Tiger Woods 1997-2008

    Tiger Woods turned professional in the summer of 1996, and by April 1997 was a major winner after sweeping to glory at the Masters and claiming the first of four green jackets. He hit world number one in August 1999 and stayed there until September 2004, before then breaking the record for most weeks at the top with a 281-week stint between June 2005 and October 2010.

    Woods has 14 major wins to his name – placing him second on the all-time list between Jack Nicklaus – is the youngest player to have achieved a career grand slam and has been named PGA Player of the Year a record 11 times. Is currently embarking on his latest comeback following serious back problems.

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    Michael Schumacher 1994-2004

    The most successful driver of all-time was the king of the road during a decade of dominance in Formula One. Michael Schumacher made his bow for Jordan in 1991, before linking up with Benetton during the same season. He became the first German to become World Drivers’ Champion in 1994, and defended that crown 12 months on.

    Ferrari acquired his services in 1996, with Schumacher very much in his element at the wheel of an iconic red car. He was back on top of the world in 2000, with that proving to be the first of five successive titles. Schumacher retired as the record holder for most championships, most Grand Prix wins, most fastest laps and most races won in a single season.

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    AP McCoy 1992-2015

    Won just about everything there is to win in the field of horse racing, breaking just about every bone it is possible to break along the way. AP McCoy rode his first winner in 1992 at the age of 17, and clearly got a taste for life on top of the podium. The Northern Irishman claimed his first Champions Jockey title in 1995-96 and would not surrender that crown until retiring in 2015 – giving him 20 successive titles and 4,358 winners.

    The greatest jumps jockey of all-time won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on two occasions and the 2010 Grand National aboard Don’t Push It. He is the only jockey to have been named BBC Sports Personality of the Year, taking that prize in 2010, and was knighted in January 2016.

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    Phil Taylor 1990-2018

    The man who helped to transform darts into the spectacle it is today, Phil Taylor took the pursuit of sporting excellence to new heights. Dedicated to his profession, endless hours of practice were handsomely rewarded as ‘The Power’ raised the bar to a height which is unlikely to ever be reached again.

    Starting his career in the BDO by claiming two World Championship titles, before adding another 14 global crowns to his CV in the PDC ranks. He also won the World Matchplay 16 times, the World Grand Prix on 11 occasions, the Grand Slam of darts six times and six Premier League crowns, among countless other honours. Finished as runner-up in the 2010 BBC Sports Personality of the Year vote.