No question about it, Alex Ferguson is a nutter. Yes, he is possibly the greatest manager ever blah blah blah but it cannot be denied that he is absolutey bonkers.
Paul Ince, Jaap Stam, David Beckham, Roy Keane, Ruud Van Nistlerooy. What do they all have in common? World class players booted out of Old Trafford for getting on Fergie’s tits – most of whom were in their prime. Of course, it’s difficult to argue with the strategy of selling your best players when you look at the success it has brought to Manchester United – but one has to wonder whether it’s bound to backfire at some point.
In fact, perhaps it already has? Paul Ince’s departure didn’t have that much of an impact, but considering where United’s problems have been over the past few years – centre back (Stam), right midfield (Beckham), central midfield (Keane) you begin to see that replacing world class players with Wes Brown, Darren Fletcher and John O’Shea is going to sting a bit. Couple that with the fact that United has been firmly replaced by Chelsea as the club that gets their pick of the litter, and perhaps Sir Alex would do well to be a tad more diplomatic when dealing with his top players.
The counter argument, is partially that getting rid of these players gave the players competing with them a boost in confidence, and Saha and Giuseppe Rossi are probably feeling pretty good right now, but when the replacements are crap (again, Brown, Fletcher, O’Shea) then you see the kind of drop in form that…well…United are experiencing right now.
More importantly, what is the future of one Wayne Rooney? It’s public knowledge that Ferguson prefers his players to be media hermits, ala Giggs and Scholes, but Wayne has already shown he has plenty to offer the tabloids. Stories of sleeping with aging prostitutes, a severe gambling problem, and – in Beckhamesque style – a strangely unattractive wife who seeks out media attention like Rooney seeks out aging prostitutes.
As quite clearly the single hope of a United revivial, it’ll be interesting to see how Fergie decides to handle this one.