Sunday marks a quite remarkable day in the passage of English football. On that day, it will be 25 years, a full quarter of a century, since Sir Alex Ferguson uprooted from Aberdeen and took on the challenge of managing Manchester United. Read that again: 25 years.
Early Doors is no lover of arbitrary anniversaries - 100 days since our last accident, 500 Days of Summer, that kind of thing - but this is a milestone that engenders nothing but awe for a man who ED feels it is now time to recognise as the greatest exponent of his trade in the history of British football.
You can forget your Matt Busbys, your Bill Shanklys, your Jock Steins, your Brian Cloughs and your Bob Paisleys, even your Phil Browns. When it comes to longevity, burning desire, brilliance and, above all, success, no one man has enjoyed a reign quite like Fergie.
The bare stats alone, spanning 1,409 games, are quite remarkable: 12 Premier League titles; two Champions Leagues; five FA Cups; four League Cups; 10 Charity/Community Shields; one Cup Winners' Cup; one European Super Cup; one Intercontinental Cup; one World Club Cup.
When he promised to "knock Liverpool off their f*****g perch" in 1986, he was referring to the pre-eminence the Merseysiders enjoyed in English football at that time, not their seemingly unassailable total of 18 league titles. But remarkably, brilliantly, Ferguson took that proud boast away from Liverpool with United's 19th last season.
But it is not just the aggregation of numbers that make Ferguson the greatest manager Britain has seen. After all, Bob Paisley won three European Cups in nine years at Liverpool - a tally Ferguson cannot match in 25.
Jock Stein won 24 major domestic trophies at Celtic, to Ferguson's 21. Brian Clough achieved two European Cups in two years at a club in Nottingham Forest that had no legacy of success in the competition.
No, other managers have enjoyed silverware that in its own way is just as special as that achieved by Ferguson, that unique Treble aside of course. What marks out Fergie is the way he has managed to maintain his relentless pursuit of trophies over a span of years in which football as a sport has changed out of all recognition.
Back in 1986, the average basic wage in the top flight was around £25,000 per annum. By 2010, it had exceeded £1 million. In 1986, every player was not accompanied by an entourage, or even an agent. In the modern environment, we have Carlos Tevez. In 1986, roasting was a Sunday meal at home with the wife and kids. Now... well, you get the idea.
Ferguson has traversed the changes in the game that other managers found all too treacherous. Many of his former contemporaries are now anachronisms, not as pliable and adaptable as the great Glaswegian. Managers such as George Graham, Howard Wilkinson and Graham Taylor became yesterday's men, while Ferguson strove to acclimatise to the changing environment of the game.
Throughout it all he has remained an imposing figure - only rarely appearing humbled, bemused by the modern game, such as in that remarkable press conference last season when he announced Wayne Rooney wanted to leave United. How foolish he must feel, having strived to escape the clutches of the greatest manager the game has seen.
Though never as verbose or quotable as Clough, Ferguson has contributed to the football dialect, "squeaky bum time" being ED's favourite example. He has also kept the press at arm's length, conducting a reign of terror over the nation's scribes assigned to the Manchester beat, finding themselves in constant fear of being banned.
The dressing room has also cowed in the face of the Scot, particularly when wielding his famed hairdryer. No one was safe, not David Beckham, not Jaap Stam, not even Roy Keane, a man who was unceremoniously shown the exit door after 'playing the pundit' on MUTV.
He has also adapted tactically, though the process has not always been smooth.
Famously, the signing of Juan Sebastian Veron was an attempt to affect a more considered, continental style of play. Even when it failed to work, Fergie told journalists: "Youse are all f*****g idiots."
He, like every other manager in the game at present, has struggled to find an answer to the unsolvable problem that is Barcelona, as last season's Champions League final demonstrated. There have been mistakes - Eric Djemba-Djemba anyone? - but he is human, making his incredible feats in the game even more remarkable.
Even now he remains capable of invention, stationing Wayne Rooney in midfield for Wednesday's Champions League tie.
That 6-1 loss to Manchester City might have ranked as his worst in 25 years, but Fergie remains very much at the pinnacle of the game, peerless. Surely even the most blinkered Liverpool fan, armed with net spend statistics, will admit as much?
It is fair to say that Ferguson has benefited from the extreme wealth of Manchester United, of course he has, but it is the Scot who restored United to the position of England's best, enabling them to exploit commercial opportunities in foreign markets.
He is a wonder, a marvel, and you can't imagine Manchester United or English football without him.
As so often, it is Sir Bobby Charlton, the man who helped bring Ferguson to Old Trafford all those years ago, who puts it most eloquently.
"We are all really lucky at Manchester United - really lucky - we have had 25 years of absolute paradise," Charlton says. "Every season we are expecting to win something, and we usually do. And it's because of the manager - nobody else."
Fergie, eh? Bloody hell.
***If one blog is not enough to quirst your Fergie thirst, how about 240 pages. A shamless plug for 'Life with Sir Alex' penned by former Early Doors contributor Will Tidey***
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "It was stupid by me - I regretted it as soon as I did it. It's no excuse, but I still feel the punishment is a bit harsh. I'm disappointed with it. I honestly don't know why [I did it]. It was just one of those moments which I live to regret now. There was no tackle beforehand, and I didn't think, 'I'm going to beat him'. It just happened. I can't explain it." - Wayne Rooney speaks for the first time about THAT red card against Montenegro.
FOREIGN VIEW: "The club cannot accept degrading behaviour, nor gratuitous vulgarity, aggravated by racism, and expresses its solidarity and support with Sinisa Mihajlovic, victim of shameful and intolerable attacks." - Tensions are running high between Fiorentina coach Sinisa Mihajlovic and a group of the club's supporters.
COMING UP: Lots of stuff. Jim White and Paul Parker will be delivering warm slices of goodness, while we reveal the winner of the Goal of the Week poll. We will also be bringing you all the essential previews ahead of the weekend, while The Fantasist will drop by for another Fantasy chat.
Oh, and we will be publishing the final part of our interview with Stoke boss Tony Pulis.