Tag Sir Alex Ferguson

Tag Sir Alex Ferguson

Fergie’s foot fetish

September 15, 2009 Tags: , , Shorts No comments

Diego Forlán was kicked out of Manchester United because he refused to wear the studs manager Sir Alex Ferguson demanded, according to the Atletico Madrid striker. The Uruguayan, regarded as a cult figure amongst fans for the two goals he scored against Liverpool at Anfield in 2002, scored just 17 goals in 98 games for United. He departed for Villareal in 2004.

“Ferguson wanted me to play with high studs, the interchangeable ones that suit wet pitches, but I feel more comfortable in low ones.” Forlán told the official Champions League magazine.

“I agreed to change boots, but I didn’t. Against Chelsea, I slipped in front of goal and wasted a chance.

“Afterwards, I rushed to the dressing room to change boots. Ferguson caught me. He grabbed the boots and threw them. That was my last game for United.”

In February 2003, Fergie famously kicked a boot across the dressing room at David Beckham, injuring the midfielder above his left eye. United had lost 2-0 to Arsenal in the FA Cup fifth round.

Forlán has become one of Europe’s leading strikers, winning the Golden Boot last season and scoring 48 goals in 68 La Liga games for Atlético.

Fergie: “We never pay parents”

September 10, 2009 Tags: , Shorts 1 comment

Sir Alex Ferguson has hit back at claims that Manchester United paid the parents of French teenager Paul Pogba, who joined the club from Le Harve this summer. Speaking at his Friday morning press conference, Ferguson said that the club had only been brought into the youth transfers controversy because United is the biggest club.

“They (the media) were always going to bring Manchester United into it because we’re the biggest club, without any knowledge of the situation,” said Ferguson.

“I can assure you Manchester United has behaved correctly in all dealings we have with parents.  There has never been a case, ever, that we have paid parents. It would be crazy to even contemplate that because it would be the biggest headache you could ever have, paying a parent.”

Le Harve President Jean-Pierre Louvel accused United of giving Pogba’s parents €100,000 (£87,000) each, and a house, to bring him to Old Trafford.

“This (charge) was levelled by a frustrated President and he’s now going to have to retract it. What other clubs do is subject to a lot of controversy at the moment but I’m confident at our own club,” Fergie continued.

Fergie: ban diving cheats

September 4, 2009 Tags: , Shorts No comments

Sir Alex Ferguson has backed UEFA’s decision to ban Arsenal’s cheat Eduardo for diving and says that the punishment will send out a message to the football community. Arsenal’s Croatian striker ‘simulated’ a foul to win a penalty against Celtic in the Champions League qualifier, second leg. UEFA has now banned the player for two European ties, meaning Eduardo will miss Arsenal’s opening Champions League group matches.

It was followed by an outrageous Emmanuel Eboué dive that earned the Ivorian defender a yellow card at Old Trafford on Saturday.

“Quite rightly something should be done. You hope that message gets across,” said Ferguson, who is attending the UEFA Elite Club Coaches Forum in Nyon, Switzerland during the international break.

“Not one coach is proud of the fact that they have players who simulate to get decisions. Coaches can’t be proud if they have won the game that way. I certainly wouldn’t be,” the Scot added.

“We all agreed that education is the best way forward, from youth teams through to first team players. We all have a responsibility, particularly the players of today, on how it impacts on young people.”

But Ferguson backed Arsène Wenger’s refusal to condemn Eduardo’s blatant cheating.

“I wouldn’t say it publicly but I wouldn’t be pleased if it was my player who did that,” the United manager added in Wenger’s defence.

“When you make a public criticism of your players you are in danger of losing the morale of the dressing room. Your job is to protect the dressing room and keep it solid. You become insular and protective of your own players in your team. We’re all selfish that way.”

Fergie turned down Scots job

September 4, 2009 Tags: , Shorts No comments

Sir Alex Ferguson was offered – and turned down – the chance to manage Scotland for a second time, The Guardian reveals today. The Scottish Football Association (SFA) offered Ferguson the role after previous incumbent Alex McLeish vacated the post for a job at Birmingham City, according to the report. George Burley was eventually appointed Scotland manager in January 2009 but not before the SFA had attempted to lure the United boss to the post with an offer of a part-time role.

Ferguson previously held the post in 1986 after the untimely death of Jock Stein, working closely with his then assistant manager at Aberdeen, Archie Knox. Famously Ferguson left Liverpool centre-back Alan Hansen out of the squad that went to the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. It’s a grudge that the BBC pundit has seemingly held to this day.

But Ferguson, a proud Scotsman who has turned down the chance to manage England no less then three times, has no interest in returning to international football, even in a part-time capacity.

With Scotland, captained by United midfielder Darren Fletcher, likely to be knocked out of the World Cup qualification in the next week Burley is expected to be sacked.

Ferguson is unlikely to be on the shortlist this time.

No need to panic… ok now panic!

July 15, 2009 Tags: Opinion 12 comments

With the world’s finest player© sold, workaholic hero Carlitos off to Untied’s nearest rivals, a Liverpool legend signed as third choice striking replacement, and the spending officially finished – it’s got to have been the worst close season in history. Right?

To crudely paraphrase Salford’s finest, there’s panic on the streets of Manchester, and many fans are wondering to themselves, will Sir Alex ever be sane again? Well, if you’ve been panicking take one paper bag, breath deeply, and let Rant give you ten reasons why everything will be ok.

  1. We’ve been here before: Remember the summer of 1995 when Andrei Kanchelskis, Mark Hughes and Paul Ince were sold to Chelsea, Everton and Inter Milan? Maybe you panicked then too, and called one of those ridiculous GMR phone-ins to demand the manager’s head? But then Sir Alex came up with the goods and United won the Premier League and FA Cup double with his kids. Things were never the same again.
  2. Ruud van Nistelrooy: tra la la la la, scored 150 goals in 200 games for United while the Reds won almost nothing. Once again Sir Alex backed his own judgment, packed off the Dutchman to Real Madrid for a song and United secured their first Premier League title in three years.
  3. You can win with kids: in Danny Welbeck, Federico Macheda, Johnny Evans, Fabio and Rafael da Silva, Darron Gibson, Zoran Tošić’, Cory Evans, James Chester and Davide Petrucci United has the finest kids in the country bar none. Forget the media hype about Arsene Wenger’s children – no not that kind – they almost never progress beyond the Gooners’ Carling cup side.
  4. It’s time for Wayne: While Ronaldo stole all the headlines, Wayne Rooney continued to be the metronomic heartbeat of United’s team. Give the man a free role behind a main striker and the White Pelé will tear you apart. Back United’s best Scouser to win Player of the Year in 2010.
  5. United’s rivals are no better: Liverpool has made no significant signings and is set to lose one of their better midfielders in Xabi Alonso. Chelsea has spent £18 million on Yuri Zhirkov, a left winger-cum-defender, purely at the behest of owner Roman Abramovich, and recruited their fifth manager in as many seasons. Arsenal has bought an unknown Belgian defender but is about to loose one of the club’s better forwards. Sure, Manchester City is recruiting like oil is going out of fashion, but does anybody really expect a team of ten strikers plus Shay Given to challenge for the title?
  6. Dimitar Berbatov will come good: he’s just too talented not to. Sir Alex will work a system around the languid Bulgarian that suits his outstanding talent, brings the best out of Wayne Rooney and enables United to move away from being a one-trick pony.
  7. United does have a defensive midfielder: remember Owen Hargreaves, he’s quite good you know. Whether the Canadian-Englishman returns in August or January, Hargreaves will give United the bite and tenacity in central midfield that the team so badly needed in Rome last May. And if he doesn’t return to full fitness, Fergie will spend, it’s as simple as that.
  8. Carlitos isn’t actually that good: yes, fans loved his work ethic, and that back-healed strike that won United the game at Wigan, or the last minute goals that secured valuable points. But are his talent and end-product really worth £25 million? Ferguson thought not or he would have been in the team.
  9. The fixture computer has been kind: and given United some winnable games in the early part of the season that will boost confidence while the team beds down with new players and into a new system.
  10. Sir Alex Ferguson knows what he is doing: believe.

United’s board strikes the real deal

June 13, 2009 Tags: , , Opinion 1 comment

It’s not often that the United board have received praise on this website over the past five years. But praise they must receive after Sir Alex Ferguson and Managing Director David Gill played hardball for more than a year in the face of Real Madrid’s relentless pursuit of Cristiano Ronaldo. It was a game of brinkmanship that – while ending in the inevitable transfer of the Portugese winger to United’s European rivals this week – ensured a world-record fee and a massive profit on the player. The board must now follow through and provide all of the funds to Ferguson for squad strenghtening. The alternative – ploughing the funds into the black hole of the club’s finances – would be an admission that United’s £669 million Glazer-induced corporate debt now comes first, and success on the pitch second.

But United haven’t always been so successful in their transfer dealings. The move of David Beckham to Real Madrid in 2003, for example, was criminally undervalued. Beckham, who in 2003 was at the peak of his physical and commercial powers, was sold for just £18 million plus bonuses. United eventually accepted a flat £23 million fee for Beckham and Madrid laughed all the way to the club shop, on the back of a massive increase in commercial revenues. United were then led by Peter Kenyon, now a director at Chelsea, and many fans and pundits felt that it was his incompetent handling of the deal that ensured the Reds were at least £10 million short of a fair market price for the player.

Incoming transfers have been poorly handled too. The year before Beckham’s departure to Madrid, United paid more than £30 million for Rio Ferdinand. While Ferdinand has proven to be an excellent acquisition over the long term, his then central defensive partner at Leeds United, Jonathan Woodgate, moved to Newcastle for a third of the price later than season. Leeds were in desperate need of cash, and United had no competition for Ferdinand’s signature. Moreover, it was widely believed that Leeds’ asking price for the player before the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea had been less than £20 million.

Bad deals are not the preserve of the Kenyon era however. There is also last summer’s transfer of Dimitar Berbatov, in which United blinked first when Manchester City threatened to muscle in on the deal at the 11th hour. After waiting all summer to sign the Bulgarian, in the hope of striking a more favourable deal with Tottenham Hotspur, United eventually paid five million pounds over than their original ceiling for the striker. The player himself paid a heavy price by missing the entire pre-season training programme.

The Reds’ board must now be as hard-nosed in their summer recruitment as they have been with Real Madrid over the transfer of Ronaldo. The club’s pursuit of Antonio Valencia, Franc Ribéry, Karim Benzema and others will now come with additional media scrutiny, and knowledge on the part of the selling clubs that United’s management have cash in their pockets. If United truly believe that the older Ribéry is in a similar bracket to Ronaldo, for example, then Bayern Munich are right in holding out for a reported £60 million fee. About £30 million too much it would seem.

Meanwhile, new President Florentino Peréz believes that Real Madrid can once again increase commercial revenues to cover the cost of Ronaldo’s acqusition. But contrary to Peréz’ claims, the club’s €600 million debt (similar sums have been written off twice in 2001 and then 2007) suggests, despite a massive increase in commercial revenues over the past five years, that the spend, spend, spend policy is unsustainable. But if it goes pear-shaped, at least Real will always have the local council to bail them out.

Ronaldo’s replacements

June 12, 2009 Tags: , Opinion 2 comments

Sir Alex Ferguson will have around £100 million to spend this summer after the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid yesterday. The board is likely to hand him the entire £80 million fee to spend on replacements, plus money already earmarked for ongoing strengthening. But Ferguson’s challenge is not an easy one. In looking to replace Ronaldo, Sir Alex will need to sign two players in one – a great goalscorer and a great winger. Rant looks at the possible targets.

Antonio Valencia, 23, Wigan Athletic, £17m
The deal for Valencia was done in principal months ago and the Ecuadorian player will join United in the next few days for a compromise fee of £17 million plus bonuses. The speedy wide-man has excellent dribbling skills and a real eye for goal from distance, which mark him out as potential star. But no matter the Wigan player’s form in the Premiership over the past two seasons, stepping up to the big stage at United and performing with the pressure on is something that Valencia is yet to have demonstrated. As such his signing will still be a risk. Moreover, Valencia is very much a winger in the old fashioned mould – he simply won’t deliver the number of goals that Ronaldo produced in recent seasons.

Franc Ribéry, 25, Bayern Munich, £40m – £45m
The French winger-cum-midfielder is better known for his silky skills in wide areas but has been operating through the middle for Bayern Munich this season. Like Ronaldo, Ribéry loves the ball at his feat and is as happy taking on defenders as he is playing a defence splitting pass. His ratio of 14 goals in 32 appearances for Bayern this season is decent, although there’s always a feeling that he has flattered to deceive on the really big stage. At more than £40 million Ribéry is significantly over-priced but Chelsea and Real Madrid’s genuine interest in the Frenchman will guarantee an auction for his services.

Karim Benzema, 21, Olympique Lyonnais, £25m – £30m
Sir Alex has been a big admirer of the brilliant Frenchman for a number of years, and broke usual protocol by singling out the player in the press last season. Although dubbed the ‘new Zidane’ in his homeland, Benzema is more of a hybrid between the (Brazilian) Ronaldo and the French legend. His ability to run at speed from deep with the ball suggests that Benzema has the talent to be France’s leading striker for the next decade. But the Lyon player has many admirers elsewhere, with Barcelona long believed to covet the player. This almost guarantees that stubborn Lyon President Jean-Michel Aulas will get his wish for a multi-club auction, despite denials the player will leave.

Alexis Sánchez, 20, Udinese, £10 – £12m
The diminutive Chilean has been a real hit in Serie A despite what on paper appears to a limited record of three goals and two assits in more than 30 games for Udinese. Despite this El Niño Maravilla has been earning rave reviews for his old fashioned trickery down the wing. It would be a gamble by Sir Alex to bring Sánchez to Old Trafford – a Chilean has never made a successful career in England – but few had heard of Ronaldo before he hit Old Trafford either.

Other Options

Goalkeeper: With Edwin van der Sar begining to show his age United must decide soon if Ben Foster really has the talent, temprament and injury-record to be United’s new long term ‘keeper. If not then Ferguson could use some of the Ronaldo cash to bring in a top-class replacement. There has been speculation in recent days of a bid for Le Mans giant goalkeeper Yohann Pele.

Right-back: With Gary Neville’s career as good as over, Wes Brown almost permanently injured and Rafael da Silva still a callow youth, Ferguson may decide to invest in defensive reinforcements. Could Sir Alex hijack Chelsea’s bid for their former player Glenn Johnson? The Portsmouth defender’s strength is in supporting the attack, but he has improved his defensive abilities in recent seasons.

Defensive midfielder: Rumours have been circulating for a while that the gaffer has Barcelona’s man-mountain of a midfielder Yaya Touré in his sights, following news that Owen Hargreaves will not now return from injury until 2010. Touré has recently rejected a new contract at Camp Nou and would be available for a reasonable price.

Forwards: There’s always the Carlos Tevez conundrum. United may now up their offer for the little Argentinian, who has been such a hit with the fans, if not always on the pitch. But a fair price is a fair price. If Ferguson and the board didn’t believe that an additional £25.5 million on top of the £10 million they have already spent on Tevez represented value for money then why should it now?

United could go shopping at Real Madrid for Jan Klass Huntelaar, the Dutch forward recruited for around £18 million by Los Merengues last summer. The former Ajax hitman was long rumoured to be a target for United anyway, and with Madrid’s Galaticos Mark II policy in full swing, Huntelaar could find himself out in the cold at Santiago Bernabeu.

Gambler Fergie Hits Jackpot

May 16, 2009 Tags: , , Opinion 1 comment

Manchester United won a record-equalling 18th English championship – their 11th in the Premier League – after a scoreless draw against Arsenal at Old Trafford this afternoon. The draw takes United an insurmountable seven points clear of Liverpool. And despite the bleating emanating from United’s rivals down the M62, the Reds thoroughly deserve the title after a producing the most consistent attacking football throughout the season.

United’s victory is in no small part down to Sir Alex Ferguson, whose propensity to gamble by throwing on forwards has helped United pick up crucial points when it looked like none were coming. Forget any talk about injuries to Gerrard and Torres, in the final analysis Sir Alex’ bravery in consistently throwing on four forwards when the chips were down was the real difference this season. With United’s 18th title, not only has Fergie knocked Liverpool “off their fucking perch” but he has trampled all over their dying corpse. Ronnie Moran, Graeme Souness, Roy Evans, Gérard Houllier, Rafael Benítez… you all came and tried but your boys have taken one helluva beating over the past 19 seasons.

The season didn’t start out that way of course. With Cristiano Ronaldo recuperating from an ankle operation and Dimitar Berbatov settling into the side, United started slowly. The team lost to Zenit St. Petersburg, Liverpool and Arsenal, alongside draws with Newcastle, Celtic and Aalborg among others, all before Christmas.

The Red’s victorious trip to the Fifa Club World Cup in Japan late December seemed to galvanise the side though, not least the defence, which went 14 Premier League games without conceding a goal as Rafa Benitez went into meltdown. The Liverpool manager started moaning about his now infamous “facts” on January 8th and seemingly hasn’t stopped since. But the only affect Benitez achieved was to throw his team into the bear pit and magnify the pressure. It backfired in the most spectacular way and has helped to leave Liverpool without a trophy once again.

Ferguson has seen it all before of course. When the pressure was applied it was United, not Liverpool, nor Chelsea, and never Arsenal that came up with the answers time and again. Late and often unlikely winners against Bolton, Stoke City, Aston Villa and Sunderland, to name but a few, have bought enough points for the title and some to spare. More often than not the gaffer was prepared to put Carlos Tevez, Waybe Rooney, with the aforementioned Ronaldo and Berbatov on the pitch all at the same time. United’s comeback from two goals down to win 5-2 against Spurs at home seemed to sum up a season. Throw two vital goals from 17 year old Federico Macheda the mix and every roll of the die came up double sixes. In the same situation Benitez would have thrown on one of his squad’s 12 left backs.

Let’s hope Fergie has the right numbers once again a week Wednesday in Rome.

Sorry really is the hardest word

April 25, 2009 Tags: , Opinion 6 comments

On Friday 4th November 2005 your editor called for Sir Alex Ferguson’s head. Frustrated by a crushing 4-1 defeat to Middlesbrough in the Premier League, followed by a limp performance against Lille in the Champions League, I came to the conclusion that Sir Alex’ time was up at Old Trafford.

I made this call not because for one moment I believed Ferguson has lost any of his skill. Nor that a change of manager would guarantee success. And certainly not because I had become spoilt by success and expected nothing less (I supported United through 26 barren years too). But because the great man’s legacy was genuinely under threat.

At the time I wrote that Ferguson was “seemingly bereft of ideas to turn things around.” Fans will recall too many mediocre players in the United squad that season; frankly, too few good purchases. Inconsistent tactics but players consistently  used out of position were also common. Worse still, the excuses for defeat seemed more blinkered than ever. No Sir Alex, the pitch at the Stade de France that night against Lille wasn’t to blame; four central defenders in the starting XI were.

But taking the long view, your editor was wrong and Sir Alex was right. He has turned things around. United will be crowed Premiership champions for the second year running in May. The Reds may even add a European Cup double to the trophy won so gloriously in Moscow last year. Moreover, your editor’s suggestion that a young Paul Le Guen take the helm has been proven laughably off-base.

For that Sir Alex, you have my humble and grovelling apology.

As Scouse wilt, can United find their soul?

April 25, 2009 Tags: , , , Opinion 2 comments

As we head into Saturday’s match against Spurs, United are once again in pole position to take the Premiership title with Liverpool blowing their chance to beat a weakened Arsenal side at Anfield last Wednesday. Let’s be frank, Arsenal were woeful defensively and Liverpool not much better. While North London’s ‘finest’ helped themselves to four goals from four attempts on target, Liverpool simply bottled it. At this time of year, neves get to us all. Most of all the least experienced at winning titles. Now that’s a fact.

United meanwhile beat Portsmouth with a thoroughly professional but somewhat unsatisfying display on Wednesday night at Old Trafford. The visitors created little but as Sir Alex said in postmatch interviews, he “thought a goal was coming.” The match could easily have turned into a nightmare draw with a display that  was  muted at worst. Energy came mainly from the effervescent Wayne Rooney, until he was somewhat bizzarely shipped out to the left wing in the second period. But with just seven games to go, can United find the attacking fevour that will sweep them to the title and a possible quadruple?

This is no time of crisis. After all, the Reds have now won four and drawn two (penalties aside) of their last six matches in all competitions, despite the tabloid press’ best attempts to write off Sir Alex’ team. What we, the fans, would like to see now, of course, is the return of some trademark United fluency and flambouyance.

Spurs’ visit to Old Trafford this weekend could help. The team of Blanchflour, Ardiles, Waddle and Gascoigne has a history, much like United, of attacking attractive football. Will Harry Redknapp  send out his team, with little to lose, to make a game of it? Let’s hope so. 11 men behind the ball rarely makes for a good game at Old Trafford – or in the current environment – a decent United performance.

Sir Alex has his part to play too. On Wednesday his side nominally lined up as a 4-4-2, with Ronaldo joining Rooney in attack. In reality Giggs and Fletcher tucked inside and United lacked width and penetration. With games coming thick and fast, and tired legs commonplace throughout the squad, rotation is inevitable. But it was still a conservative selection.

With Spurs, ‘Boro, City, and Wigan to come before Arsenal’s visit to Old Trafford for the May 16 Premiership fixture United could well be out of sight before Wenger’s boys hit town. Better still, United could take the title with a flourish that day. Now that would be the right style.