So, the most successful British football manager of all time is retiring. For many it’s the end of an era, and all those other clichés. There are also a thousand theories about what made Ferguson so great and one of them is related to clothing.
Scientists at Portsmouth University discovered that a team’s belief in their manager’s competence is related to the way the manager dresses. So Ferguson’s habit of wearing tracksuits in training, and suits and shirts for match days, creates the perfect blend of competence. A tracksuit or leggings and sweatshirt on training days suggests the ability to transmit technical skills while formal clothing for match days inspires belief in strategic competence.
Surprisingly, the effect is greater on the opposition, than the team being managed, so part of Ferguson’s longevity may be his consistent approach to always dressing like a player when coaching and a businessman when in front of the opposition – over long years of media exposure, he’s created a persona that appears to have perfect mastery of both sets of skills, creating an air of omnipotence that threatens both players and managers on other teams.
One way that this has been proved true is that in February last year, when Sir Alex appeared on TV in a suit and white polo neck sweater rather than a shirt, social media networks and sports commentators alike were agog about his apparently insignificant change of attire – and all kinds of theories abounded. Several tweets went with the line ‘The name’s Ferguson, Alex Ferguson’ referencing the famous white polo neck of James Bond and linking the two great British icons.
Few other managers have such an impact and, apart from Jose Mourinho, none of them score anything other than own goals, clothing wise. So it seems that to dress like a boss, on and off the pitch, has been part of Sir Alex’s success story.