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  • 14 Jun
    It is perhaps fitting that between Europes two largest club championships - the Europa League Final held Wednesday and the UEFA Champions League Final to be played May 25 - the football world will stop to bid a final farewell to Sir Alex Ferguson as manager of Manchester United. The European stage, much like that of the English Premier League, has grown both in scale and competition in the years Sir Alex has patrolled the Old Trafford sidelines. The Scotsman has not always proven successful on Europes grandest club stage, but the success hes enjoyed and the lengths he has gone to in pursuit of both the best talent and the talent most suited to his club have had a truly continental and, in fact, global reach. When Ferguson took the reins at United there was no such thing as the Champions League yet. The European Cup morphed into the Champions League in 1992-93 (which would then evolve to its current knockout format in 1994-95) and with the stakes upped to see year-long play between the continents top clubs, Ferguson took European scouting very seriously. Upon the announcement of Fergusons retirement just over a week ago, many took to the task of assembling an all-time starting XI for the 26 years of Fergusons tenure. While those lineups were riddled with standouts from England and the British Isles – names like David Beckham, Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes to name just a few – what immediately leaps out is how Sir Alex was able to assimilate foreign-born talent to thrive in an English system to create a truly global squad. Missing from many of these all-time squads were players from the other three elite European leagues of the past two decades: Serie A, La Liga and the Bundesliga. Thats not to say that Ferguson has not benefitted from talented Germans, Italians or Spaniards in his time. One neednt look any further than the goal line from this past season to see how he has benefitted from the emergence of David De Gea. However, it is the other talented European nations that have provided Ferguson with the biggest boost. Very conspicuous on those all-time teams were France and the Netherlands, contributing players such as Eric Cantona, Patrice Evra, Jaap Stam, and Edwin van der Sar. This is to say nothing of other compatriots that at one time or another were vital to Uniteds success such as Ruud van Nistelrooy, Robin van Persie and yes, even the Fabian Barthez era. And there is, of course, a certain Portuguese dynamo that may or may not have played his final game as a Red Devil. But beyond the traditional European powers, Fergie has also been able to reach farther for even greater success. Danish keeper Peter Schmeichel was in many cases the clear choice for Fergusons all-time netminder. He would find more success to the north with Norwegian striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, while later tasking Serbias Nemanja Vidic with holding the back line firm for seven years. In its current incarnation, United has reached even farther afield. Much of the secondary scoring behind van Persie in Uniteds Premiership-winning 2012-13 campaign has been shouldered by Japans Shinji Kagawa and Mexicos Javier Chicharito Hernandez. One of Fergusons final gifts may have been to expand the United fan base even further, with the January signing of 20-year-old Ivory Coast-born England international Wilfried Zaha. By no means was Ferguson the first to look outside Europe, but it seems that when he does it is not always for the biggest names – Fernando Torres comes to mind – he has a knack for finding young talent on the rise like Chicharito and Rooney and buffering it with big-money established transfers like van Persie. Fergusons success on the European stage has been varied. He has had his two grand successes – a monumental treble in 1999 and an unforgettable 2008 penalty kick triumph over Chelsea in Moscow – but he has also endured failures. Fergusons United crashed out in the group stage in 2006 and 2012 and he probably had a grander European exit envisioned than watching Real Madrid walk away victorious from Old Trafford in this seasons Round of 16. But there has never been a UEFA Champions League without United on Fergusons watch and he remains the only manager to guide an English club to two Champions League trophies, to say nothing of being one of only two clubs to have appeared in three of the last six Champions Finals (Bayern Munich being the other). Many managers have found success on the continental stage. Many managers have beaten Ferguson in European competition over the past 26 years. Some clubs – Milan, Barcelona, Real Madrid – have even been more successful over the lifespan of the current incarnation of the Champions League. Where Ferguson remains unrivaled, however, is his ability to reach across the continent (and eventually the globe) to find the right pieces to succeed on the European stage and keep an English club in the Champions League every year since its current incarnation began. Cheap Jets Jerseys . "Trying to breathe," he said with a grin. 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It is a cliché dragged out by fans and pundits regularly when discussions take place around which teams are better than others.Captain Charlotte Edwards struck 60 off 50 balls as England Women launched their World Twenty20 campaign in style with a 36-run mauling of Bangladesh, in Bangalore. Edwards struck seven fours in her 11th fifty in T20 internationals - her first half-century in the format in 11 innings, since the unbeaten 75 made against South Africa at Northampton in September 2014.After England posted 153-7 Bangladesh fell well short despite posting their highest ever T20 score of 117-6 thanks to a new record fifth-wicket partnership of 64 between Salma Khatun and Nigar Sultana (35) - a stand broken by a neatly-executed Sarah Taylor stumping, made standing up to Anya Shrubsole (2-27).England went on the offensive after winning the toss; Tammy Beaumont (18 off 14) put on 34 in 4.1 overs with Edwards - lofting Salma for a glorious six over long on - before being bowled on the charge, looking to hit Jahanara Alam (3-32) across the line.Sarah Taylor (nine) struggled to find fluency despite an early scoop for two and was stumped by Sultana off Fahima Khatun as she attempted to force the pace.Two balls later Heather Knight drove a low catch back to Khadija Tul Kubra but from 71-3 Edwards pressed on to reach her fifty off 41 balls.The captain enjoyed a reprieve three runs later when the capped Salma shelled a routine caught and bowled chance and had another escape on 57 when Jahanara couldnt quite get across at extra cover.Nat Sciver (27 off 22), herself dropped at midwicket by Rumana off Salma on 26, couldnt make the most of the reprieve and picked out long on as she sougght to go over the top.ddddddddddddDanni Wyatt and Katherine Brunt kept up Scivers momentum after Edwards walked past a Rumana Ahmed delivery before falling to successive Jahanara deliveries at the end of the innings.Bangladesh, who had never scored more than 115 in a Twenty20, struggled from the first over of their chase - a wicket maiden in which Brunt (1-17) bowled Sharmin Akhter leg stump.Anya Shrubsole, currently No 1 in the T20 rankings, should also have struck in her opening over but Wyatt shelled a straightforward chance offered by Fargana Hoque before shed scored.The seamer swiftly made amends, forcing Ayasha Rahman to drive to Edwards at mid-off and 14-2 became 38-3 when Danielle Hazell (1-20), second to Shrubsole in the world standings, removed Fargana Hoque (19).Edwards impressive all-round display was capped when she slid, gathered and shied with success to run Rumana (19) out with a direct hit.England captain Charlotte Edwards: Its always nice to start with runs but the win is the most important thing. We got a good total and even though there is a bit we can do with our bowling and fielding it was a good all-round performance and run out. I will be talking about my run out and catch for some time!England coach Mark Robinson: I thought we were a bit safe on a really good wicket and lost our way and our intent in the middle overs - we dont want to be like that. We were also a bit lazy with our decision-making with the ball but maybe its good to leave a bit in the tank.Watch highlights of England Womens victory over Bangladesh Women at 6pm on Sky Sports 2. ' ' '