Freshfields’ Red Knight hails United’s ‘heir to Busby’

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer London chief and high-profile Red Knight Mark Rawlinson has praised outgoing Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson as a “spiritual heir to Matt Busby” who “hates losing but uses adversity as a fuel”.

Mark Rawlinson
Mark Rawlinson

Writing for The Lawyer, Rawlinson has dubbed Ferguson “simply the Boss”, highlighting his ability to manage big-name players who could build teams, motivate them and divert pressure away from them.

The City corporate star hosted a meeting of the so-called Red Knights in the Freshfields headquarters on Fleet Street in 2010 when the group was planning a bid to buy the Manchester club from owner Malcolm Glazer.

Drawing a comparison between Ferguson and the club’s 1968 European Cup-winning manager, the United fan writes: “Sir Alex was a spiritual heir to Matt Busby. His emphasis on youth policy is an echo of the Busby Babes. I was born just before the Munich air disaster and Europe has always brought special nights: watching George Best against Benfica on a black and white TV, being in the Nou Camp for the injury time comeback [against Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final] and agonising over the Moscow penalty shoot out [against Chelsea in the 2008 final] in a Boston bar.”

He adds: “I saw the club from the inside during the defence against the Glazer bid – and they were hugely professional. The twin pillars of Sir Alex and David Gill, the retiring CEO, have helped maintain the heritage, notwithstanding the financial pressures which the Glazers’ regime has heaped on. But Sir Alex and the mindset he has created have been key.

“He is not only a teambuilder, but a massive motivator. [He] hates losing but uses adversity as a fuel.”

Rawlinson acted for the club in relation to the 2005 takeover by the Glazer family, which was advised by Allen & Overy.