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Now Streaming: Sir Alex Ferguson – Never Give In

This hagiography glosses over much, but the stories about playing striker for Rangers and managing Aberdeen to a European cup win are worth the price of admission.

Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give In | Paramount+
Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give In (2021)

Player Rating: 7.0
Stream: Paramount+
Running Time: 1 hr 48 mins
Audience: Ages 10 and older

This hagiography glosses over many of the testy moments of Sir Alex's 27-year reign at Manchester United. But Never Give In strikes gold when retelling the story of his unhappy days playing as a striker for Rangers in the 1960s, and his wife's Catholic faith marginalized him despite Ferguson scoring 25 goals in 41 appearances. Then there's his managerial triumph at Aberdeen, where he guided a team that trained in a public park to three titles and wins over Bayern Munich and Real Madrid in the 1983 European Cup Winners' Cup. These and other moments are enough to carry the film, and make it interesting viewing for the neutral fan who's not so invested in Manchester United.

Before Manchester United, there was Aberdeen FC.

Sir Alex Ferguson took over the club in June of 1978, when the 36-year-old manager had just a few seasons of lower-league experience under his belt. Aberdeen was such a small organization that the team trained at a local park.

No matter. Sir Alex guided them to the Scottish Premier Division title in 1980, then again in 1984 and 1985. Aberdeen also won four consecutive Scottish Cups and a Scottish League cup to boot.

Those titles qualified Aberdeen for European competition. In 1983, the lads from the local park competed in the European Cup Winners' Cup, and held a Bayern Munich that featured Gerd Müller and Paul Breitner to a 0-0 draw in the Olympiastadion, then defeated them 3-2 just two weeks later in Scotland. But that was just the warm-up. Aberdeen made it to the final, where they beat 3-2 Real Madrid in stoppage time behind a 112' goal from John Hewitt, a local boy who spent most of his career playing for his childhood club.

It turns out the Fergie Time was a thing long before Manchester United turned the last-minute winner into an art form.

Brilliant and bitter

Those high-profile, high-pressure victories in Scotland speak not just to Sir Alex's tactical brilliance, but to his bitterness.

He was driven as much by a desire to succeed with Aberdeen as to watch Rangers FC fail. A striker who made his professional debut at age 16, Ferguson signed for Rangers in 1967, when he was at the height of his powers. He scored 25 goals in 41 appearances for the Scottish giants, but his marriage to a Catholic didn't sit well with the Protestant club.

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