CaughtOffside’s weekly diarist SuesieG waxes nostalgic about the man of the season, Sir Alex Ferguson.
I had a friend who asked me just this week if I was going to write something about Sir Alex and his 20 years at Manchester United. After thanking Football Jesus for giving me yet another opportunity to wind up the Manchester United supporters by mentioning the Carling Cup, Southend, and giant killing, I decided that I had better be serious and pay some homage to Sir Alex.
Having witnessed at least 17 years of the 20 heâ€™s been in charge, here are a few of my favourite Sir Alex moments.
Ferguson vs. Wenger
After West Ham gaffer Alan Pardew finished mewling his apology in the press this week, Arsene Wenger must have been shaking his head and was undoubtedly missing his old adversary, Sir Alex.
Back in the good old days, when the arrogance of managers was backed up by the quality of their sides, the match up between Manchester United and Arsenal was a mouth-watering affair. Neither Wenger nor Ferguson was particularly fond of each other, and at least 10 days before United and Arsenal met up, the war of words between the two kicked off.
Both sparred lightly in the press until the match got closer, and then it was gloves off! Whereas Wenger tried to be calm and composed, Ferguson turned puce and snarled. And on match day, when the opening whistle blew, both teams went at it like terriers, while the managers paced around cagily on the touchline, glaring at one another. It was fabulous!
Sadly, with the arrival of the younger crowd and the comedian known as Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, that kind of vitriolic intensity between managers that used to be oh-so amusing has now been watered down to a pathetic form of bitch slapping. And despite Wenger â€˜fessing up recently to friendly encounters at UEFA meetings with Sir Alex, Iâ€™m not fooled for one second. Because if any manager tried a shove on Ferguson, like Wenger did on Pardew, Iâ€™m convinced that that manager would be on the receiving end of one sweet Glaswegian Kiss.
I canâ€™t remember if David Beckham was given a testimonial match at Manchester United or not, but I do remember the time leading up to his exit from Old Trafford.
After weeks of rumours and speculation of a bust up between Ferguson and his Hello! Magazine star, David emerged from the Manchester United boot room looking a little less pretty than usual. Using a girlâ€™s hair band to pull back his long blond locks, Beckham revealed to the paparazzi (and the rest of the world) waiting outside, a large cut over his left eye. The culprit, it seems, was not the rumoured flying tea cups of the United dressing room, but instead, a flying boot. Eventually it emerged that the flying boot in question was launched by none other than Sir Alex himself, and in fact was a â€œpoorly aimed kick at a stray boot.â€ Personally, I always thought that was a â€œtwistâ€ on the truth. First, it wasnâ€™t nice to refer to David Beckham as a â€œstray bootâ€; and second, I have kicked countless stray boots at my husband and none have resulted in any such serious injuries.
Anyway, shortly after that, Beckham publicly demanded an apology from Ferguson, and after not receiving one, then publicly forgave his manager. Ferguson, however, was not so magnanimous, but entirely ruthless instead. Becks was sent packing to Spain, Manchester United made loads of money off of him, and if there ever was a time when the saying â€œno player is bigger than a clubâ€ was relevant, this was it.
Since then, plenty of United fans have since bemoaned the loss of Beckham and his dead balls, as well as certain other players who have not followed what Fergie calls the â€œManchester United way.â€ And for at least two years, those fans had good reason to gripe â€“ poor results, no silverware, and a take over by some Americans who have an uncanny resemblance to Carnie folk.
Well, either thereâ€™s a method to Fergusonâ€™s madness or heâ€™s got giant horseshoes up his arse. At the same time that Manchester United have stormed to the top of the Premiership and look like winners again, David Beckhamâ€™s been dropped by England, dropped by Real Madrid, and according to Fabio Capello, suffering from â€œpsychological difficulties.â€ No kidding! As if being married to Victoria isnâ€™t trying enough, Davidâ€™s now getting advice from his new best friend forever, and the most stable person in Hollywood, Tom Cruise.
The Secret to Success
About two years ago, my husband came home with an instructional DVD called â€œManchester United â€“ Play Like Champions.â€ Of course, even though he said it was a present for me, I know he really bought it for himself. That being said, I had great fun in the living room learning various skills such as penalties (not diving) with Ruud Van Nistelrooy, free kicks with Ryan Giggs, and the Cruyff with Paul Scholes (I turned skipped the chapters with Darren Fletcher and Rio Ferdinand).
At the end, there was an interview with Sir Alex and a few kids. When asked what the secret to success in the game of football was, Sir Alex gave said something that no football player or fan should ever forget:
â€œEnjoy your football lads, work hard and enjoy your football.â€