Tag Darren Ferguson

Tag Darren Ferguson

Fergusons continue keeping it in the family

July 2, 2011 Tags: , , Opinion 68 comments

There’s something about Sir Alex Ferguson’s nepotism that is both enduring and utterly shameless: from BBC accusations that the Manchester United manager pressured young players into signing with agent son Jason, to the recent loans of young players to whatever club manager son Darren is running, and conveniently arranged friendlies.

So it continues, with Red youngsters Ryan Tunnicliffe and Scott Wootton this week joining Championship outfit Peterborough United for the next six months. If history is repeated the pair may well not be the last United kids to end up at London Road this season.

Tunnicliffe, 18, last season’s United Young Player of the Year, has signed immediately, with 19-year-old Woootton joining the midfielder at Posh’s Portuguese training camp before officially signing forms in July.

“Ryan is obviously an up and coming player at Manchester United. He was very inspirational in helping to win the FA Youth Cup,” said Darren Ferguson.

“He has a very good pedigree and we feel that he is ready to step up and play in the Championship. He is a tenacoious, box-to-box midfielder and this move works well for him and obviously works very well for us. I am delighted to have him on board and look forward to working with him.”

Peterborough will play in the Championship next season after earning promotion from League One via the play-offs in May, following Ferguson Jr’s return to the club in January. The 3-0 victory over Huddersfield Town at Old Trafford earned the club a third promotion in the last four seasons.

Yet junior has suffered several ups and downs in a fledgling managerial career. The promotions with Poshwere tempered by a dramatic sacking at Preston last December. Near the foot of the Championship, North End chairman Maurice Lindsay terminated the 39-year-old coach’s contract a year into the job.

Old Traffor’s reaction was seemingly swift and brutal, with senior reportedly demanding the early and immediate end to the loans of Joshua King and Ritchie de Laet. Due to contractual terms of a third United player, Matthew James, the midfielder did not return to Old Trafford for another fortnight.

“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 at the time.

“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.”

Senior later claimed that the players requested to not remain at Deepdale after the change of manager, although the explanation took nearly a month to arrive. Suspicion of senior’s power to affect Deepdale grew after former United academy players Danny Pugh and Michael Tonge were recalled from loan by parent club Stoke City almost immediately after junior’s sacking. That Stoke manager Tony Pulis resides in Sir Alex’ inner sanctum of managerial friends only adds to the curiosity.

“I spoke with the owner, Trevor Hemmings, with whom I have a good relationship, and explained that the players did not want to go back,” said Ferguson of the abrupt recalls.

“Our reserve team coach, Warren Joyce, spoke to me about it. We decided that the players should go to training that day and we would discuss it later. We decided that if the players did not want to go back there was no point in them being there.”

Yet, there has been more than one accusation of nepotism when it comes to the Ferguson family. The Knight’s dispute with the BBC – he has spoken to or on the corporation’s channels on a very few select occasions – dates back to the broadcaster’s 2004 Panorama documentary, which ostensibly accused Jason of exploiting his father’s influence to sign United’s younger players to his agency books. The Beeb’s accusation has been met with silence but no legal action.

Neither is Darren free of controversy after admitting in April 2008 to assaulting his estranged wife in the driveway of Sir Alex’s Wilmslow home. Junior changed his plea to guilty after initially denying the charge and was fined £1,500. The younger Ferguson is now regularly subjected to terrace abuse about the incident.

Whatever the reasons for this week’s loans – surely only the most myopic of United supporter can claim anything bar nepotism – Wootton and Tunnicliffe may will benefit from first team action if Posh can start the season in some semblance of early season form.

Following the 2008/9 promotion from League One Peterborough’s limited budget and inability to invest in new talent resulted in Ferguson leaving Peterborough “by mutual consent” in November 2009, with Posh bottom of the table and heading for relegation. Senior later claimed to have told his son to leave Peterborough that summer.

Tunnicliffe and Wootton will hope for a brighter start this time around. Anything else and junior will be on the end of a third P45 in as many seasons. Either that or a rash of new United kids to play with.

Cronyism and the Fergusons

December 31, 2010 Tags: , , Opinion 24 comments

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.

Daddy does deal as Welbeck joins Preston

January 25, 2010 Tags: , , Shorts No comments

Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck joins Preston North End for the remainder of the season, after Ferguson senior and junior concluded a loan deal for the 19-year-old striker. Welbeck, who has scored five goals in 24 appearances for United, will go straight into Darren Ferguson’s Preston squad for the trip to Peterborough United on Wednesday.

Welbeck began the season as an outside bet for a place in England’s World Cup squad, with Sir Alex Ferguson predicting bright things for the Longsight-born player. But the arrival of Senegalese striker Mame Biram Diouf has pushed the teenager further down the pecking order at Old Trafford and into the arm of Sir Alex’ son Darren, the newly appointed Preston manager.

The striker trends a well-worn path to Preston – David Beckham spent part of the 1994-5 season at Deepdale, before returning to Old Trafford to win the double the following season.

But it’s not the first intra-family deal struck since junior took over the reigns at Preston – Darren revealed last week that his side had trained at United’s Carrington complex during the recent inclement weather.