Cronyism and the Fergusons



Sir Alex Ferguson will do anything to protect his sons. No news there. The question is – when does support turn into nepotism? For one, Jason, Ferguson has refused to speak to the BBC for six years. For another, Darren, Sir Alex delved first into Manchester United’s reserve squad then, with Ferguson junior’s sacking yesterday, senior turned off the tap.

Darren’s dismissal by Preston North End this week was with swift retribution by United today, whom ended the loan spells of Joshua King and Ritchie de Laet a fortnight early. Meanwhile, the club is actively seeking to end the season-long loan of a third United player, 19-year-old midfielder Matthew James.

Sir Alex’ patronage could hardly be more explicit. That three United players joined Preston simply to aid Sir Alex’ son was questionable in itself. The recall is a move that seeks neither to hide rank abuse of the loan system nor United’s youth policy, which is seemingly based not on the players’ needs but that of the Ferguson clan.

Preston chair Maurice Lindsay said that the recall surprised management at Deepdale, although United is within the terms of it’s contract with the Lancashire club. De Laet is on a short-term deal and King has a mid-season break clause, although James’ contract is different as the Bacup-born midfielder is due to stay with Preston until June.

“That has come as a bit of a shock to us and it’s a bit of a blow. Ritchie and Josh won’t now be available on Saturday,” Lindsay told North End’s website.

“We got a message from Manchester United that they have been summoned back immediately. Under the terms of the loan agreement they can do that, we recognise United’s legal right to do that.

“They would like Matty James back as well, but his contract is a bit different.”

Reports today indicated that United will seek to terminate James’ loan spell through legal means if necessary, such is Sir Alex’ anger at his son’s sacking after just 13 wins in 49 games for North End.

Not that the two immediate returnees have been a conspicuous success at Preston. Belgian defender De Laet has made five appearances for the Championship strugglers in the past two months, while striker King has scored just once in 10 games in all competitions.

James’ position is different though, with the talented England under-21 international a fixture in Ferguson junior’s side and clearly benefiting from regular football.

Realistically, with United out of the Carling Cup none of the trio will feature in the first team on recall and can only hope that another loan arrangement materialises in the January transfer window. Or Darren picks up a new job fast.

It’s not the first time Ferguson senior stands accused on nepotism of course. The Knight’s dispute with the BBC dates back to the broadcaster’s 2004 Panorama documentary, which ostensibly accused Jason – then an agent – of exploiting his father’s influence to sign United’s younger players to his agency books.

It was an accusation met with silence but neither denial nor legal action.

Thoughts of Cronyism aside, King, De Laet and James will genuine have cause to wonder whether United has their best interests at heart. After all Nicky Ajose has survived the dismissal of Brian Laws at Burnley and similarly Mame Biram Diouf remains at Blackburn Rovers despite Sam Allardyce’s controversial removal.

Of course, United has long since dispensed with any formal structure on transfers – permanent on temporary. Bébé’s acquisition in August is evidence enough of Ferguson’s continued ability of act on a whim, within the bounds of the Glazer family’s financial restrictions. It seems unlikely a call was made to Florida to sanction the loan recall.

The move also leaves Preston, struggling financially and five points adrift at the foot of the Championship, in serious trouble. Now under the stewardship of former Everton defender David Unsworth, Preston sacked Ferguson junior after the team picked up just 19 points this season.

“I was hoping this would never occur but when we’re approaching the new year bottom of the league and with the future of the club itself in serious jeopardy if we are relegated,” Lindsay told the Guardian.

“There clearly had to be some soul-searching and we had to tell Darren that for the sake of the club we needed a new manager. I went to his house for the sad task of talking to him and he was very dignified.”

After a second dismissal in as many seasons, junior has gone from the golden boy of lower league management to rebuilding a career now in tatters.

It’ll surely take more than his father’s patronage to fix this mess.

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  • RedScot

    I dont get this I am the biggest fan of Sir Alex you can possibly be like most United supporters.
    I feel like crazy for the young players being used like “Pawns”.
    What message does it send to them?
    I hope Steve Bruce gets sacked, that will add some goal threat to back up Dimitar and Hernandez! :)

  • JIm

    Matty James aged two years in two paragraphs,there. Impressive stuff.
    Seriously, why would SAF continue to help out a club that have just kicked his son into touch? I don’t blame him at all. Let Mr Rugby League whinge as much as he likes.

    • RedScot

      ? Possibly to stay loyal to the players he loaned out to the whites!Hurriedly broke the agreement that was in place for those players.
      He has closed an avenue(Beckham) with preparations for litigation because of his defence of his son.
      loyalty eh, its a two way street!
      He should be loyal to Manchester United first and foremost, why did he send them on loan.?

  • The Otter

    He is being loyal to his players? He has no idea who is
    coming in or who will be looking after these lads at the moment so
    why leave it to chance? Bring them home were he knows who is
    training them everyday!

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/forum/profile/admin Ed

      Otter – that argument only makes sense if it’s a consistent policy. It’s not.

  • http://www.visual-intrusion.com Robbo

    Once again Alex Ferguson shows his small mindedness, if United had recalled De Leat and King at any other time nothing would have been said but the fact that the very day when Preston North End sack Darren Ferguson United recall loanees smacks of something else.

    All this apologetic claptrap about new manager don’t know who he is call the lads back is an excuse for Fergusons small mindedness, wait and see who the manager is then recall them if he doesnt fit the mindset but not on the day the manager gets sacked.

    Lets also be honest Darren Ferguson was sacked because PNE were bottom of the table and the days of giving a chance such as his father had are long gone.

  • Bill

    Interesting development. Blood is thicker than water, don’t blame him for recalling them – especially if they aren’t playing that much anyway. Somebody has to take some sort of stand against owners. I’m very surprised there’s not been more fuss from the LMA over the quite ridiculous sackings of Houghton and Alladyce.

  • http://www.visual-intrusion.com Robbo

    Unregistered User said:
    Interesting development. Blood is thicker than water, don’t blame him for recalling them – especially if they aren’t playing that much anyway. Somebody has to take some sort of stand against owners. I’m very surprised there’s not been more fuss from the LMA over the quite ridiculous sackings of Houghton and Alladyce.

    WTF does Darren Ferguson getting sacked have to do with taking a stand against the owners ????

  • Red Paddy

    Good article -Ferguson is a legendary manager but an embarrassment of a human being. He truly believes he is bigger than the club. You omitted the fact that Preston could go out of business if they are relegated……his ego and lack of humility is astonishing. …..first we have his thing with the press conferences, then the horse scenario,the backing of the glazers , his embarrassing spat with the BBC based on his crooked transfer dealings,his spat with the refs last year and now this embarrassment…….Horrible man,great manager.

  • andrew

    Its life i guess….a lot would do the same he just doesnt try to hide the fact i guess.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Can’t say I care much, but I’m not surprised… like “Red Paddy” said… Ferguson will be remembered as a legendary manager… and a cunt… for certain types of management, they go hand in hand, and I think Ferguson is a perfect example of this.
    Would he have been as successful, had he been a less obstinate, self important tyrant? I don’t think so.
    Ferguson is an asshole… and United has benefitted infinitely from his “absolute dictator” style of management.
    But it’s no surprise that it’s not JUST his approach to the job… he’s a natural… he really is a cunt in the real the real world as well.

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  • Bill

    A stand against owners in general. They way they sack managers after 4 months in the job. Wake up!!!!

    In the current climate Fergie would have been sacked after 18 months at O.T. – luckily the board backed him and it was an era of less media saturation and pressure.

  • http://www.newhallmedialtd.com Calvino

    Idiotic comments by most here!!

    Daniel Taylor of the Guardian started this baseless reasoning and it has grown wings and the ED has gleefully picked it up.
    The Preston Chairman was live on SKYSPORTS this evening to explain that it was agreed that the players will return to United at the end of the month and that is what has happened and that his club have NOTHING against United. Stoke also pulled back two players from the same Preston so am surprised that the ED has not alluded that SAF spoke to his ‘mate’ Pulis to do same. The Preston man went on to confirm that the third United player is currently injured and United would like him back to handle his treatement and rehabilitation but as it is a season long loan it has to be agreed by all parties.
    Goodness me!!! If we are this blind to objectivity on things concerning our own manager is it then any wonder that the frankly outrageous goal that Birmingham got in midweek barely registered anywhere as an injustice against us. The same way Drogba was so offside he could have been in Watford when he was played in for Chelsea to score against Bolton but there was no complaint about it. Yet, Nani’s goal against Spurs got so many column inches and was replayed and played and replayed all over SKYsports.

    You people consider a 70 year-old man so small minded as to be that vindictive over his son’s sacking at Preston? I disagree. Strongly too.

  • http://www.visual-intrusion.com Robbo

    Calvino said:
    Idiotic comments by most here!!

    Daniel Taylor of the Guardian started this baseless reasoning and it has grown wings and the ED has gleefully picked it up.
    The Preston Chairman was live on SKYSPORTS this evening to explain that it was agreed that the players will return to United at the end of the month and that is what has happened and that his club have NOTHING against United. Stoke also pulled back two players from the same Preston so am surprised that the ED has not alluded that SAF spoke to his ‘mate’ Pulis to do same. The Preston man went on to confirm that the third United player is currently injured and United would like him back to handle his treatement and rehabilitation but as it is a season long loan it has to be agreed by all parties.
    Goodness me!!! If we are this blind to objectivity on things concerning our own manager is it then any wonder that the frankly outrageous goal that Birmingham got in midweek barely registered anywhere as an injustice against us. The same way Drogba was so offside he could have been in Watford when he was played in for Chelsea to score against Bolton but there was no complaint about it. Yet, Nani’s goal against Spurs got so many column inches and was replayed and played and replayed all over SKYsports.

    You people consider a 70 year-old man so small minded as to be that vindictive over his son’s sacking at Preston? I disagree. Strongly too.

    The 70 year old has already shown his small mindedness with regards to son Jason and not talking to the BBC for how many years now.

  • Ted

    Still holding his childish grudge with the beeb because they made it public he is a crook, The horse jizz debacle, so why does’nt this latest bout of petulence leave anybody suprised? If he really had a heart, the minute he recalled the Preston players he should have sent Fletcher and Carrick up there in their places.

    No point griping about it though, he’d only tell us to fuck off and watch Chelsea……………”again!”

  • Bill

    BORING! Bring on the West Brom game tomorrow.

  • herbie simms

    I was stunned today to read Fergie’s comments today on BBC sports that he will not be buying any players in January. He claims that the only weakness in the team is his wide men, the wingers. He said nothing about the midfield other than he said he will make a decision on whether to bring Tom Cleverley back since Park will be out for a month. He also stated that he is sending Macheda out on loan in January to get more playing time like Wellbeck. What is interesting though is that Joshua King, Ritchie De Laet and Matthew James do not want to leave Preston at this time because they are getting playing time, but Fergie does not want to hear it. Also Cleverley has asked Fergie if he can stay on at Wigan and Fergie is saying he will weigh out the situation. These young players want to stay put because they are getting to play regularly and gaining experience. If they go back to United now, its the same old routine of sitting on the bench and hoping your name will be called.

  • sidney

    Herb, Fergie always says we won’t sign anybody in January – he’s talking shit

    And he’s hardly gonna come out and say “this is a poor United team and we’re weak in the midfield”, is he

  • herbie simms

    All I can say is lets hope for a positive result against West Brom and HAPPY NEW YEAR to all you great guys and your families.

  • kramer

    he’s right in not buying anyone. the squad is overstocked as it is. we’ll have to put some players on steward duty soon.

  • Bill

    This is why he won’t buy in Jan:

    1. We are top of the premier league with at least one game in hand all the rest.

    2. We are unbeaten in the league without our best player playing well and the team being just above average.

    3. There are players in the current squad who aren’t playing regularly so why would he expand it.

    4. We traditionally do better after Xmas.

    5. Almost all of the top tier players are cup tied in Europe so can’t be fully effective.

  • Bill

    Point 5 should end a full effective signing. Sleep deprivation!

  • bman

    sidney said:
    Herb, Fergie always says we won’t sign anybody in January – he’s talking shit

    And he’s hardly gonna come out and say “this is a poor United team and we’re weak in the midfield”, is he

    The fact that he only said it right before the window opens means that we were interesting in buying certain players if they were available, but have been told they’re not.

  • http://www.newhallmedialtd.com Calvino

    Robbo said:
    The 70 year old has already shown his small mindedness with regards to son Jason and not talking to the BBC for how many years now.

    Robbo,
    why do you guys sometimes deliberately take stuff out of context? The BBC documentary came out and called Fergie a crook. They infered that through his son he had been making some underhand money. I am sorry I am with him on that and will not have talked to the beeb at all. He does not need them.

    I think he should also kick out that fool Daniel Taylor from his press conferences. Stupid ignorant idiots who do not care how much rubbish they print. I can’t even understand why ANY united fan will be angry that he does not talk to the BBC. Those people with the Liverpool pundits never give us a chance. They can get right lost.

    Cleverly needs to come back. If he had been available we would not have the situation where Gibson was wide right on tuesday. Who knows how long it will take for Valencia to be up to speed again so we can not rely on Nani alone.

    It makes headline news to attach Darren sack with the withdrawal of the players. Rubbish.

    Nani, Anderson, Gibson, Hernandez, the Twins are our future. Please go Neville, Scholes and Giggs. Give Fletcher the skipper’s armband.