25 per cent of people polled by the Manchester Evening News blame Sir Alex Ferguson for Manchester United's stuttering season
What was he supposed to say when the club asked for his thoughts on a successor? He wanted to help
Some say he picked the wrong manager, but he didn't. He picked the wrong club; one with very short memories and a well-honed sense of entitlement
After Sam Allardyce was booed at Upton Park, it is not West Ham’s owners, or the fans, who need to raise their game
What was Richard Scudamore thinking when he said United’s poor form hurts the Premier League?
Published: 18:39 EDT, 30 March 2014 | Updated: 06:22 EDT, 31 March 2014>
It was midway through the second half when the Kop paid its traditional tribute to one of the heroes of Anfield. A single word: Dalglish. The man was in his directors’ box seat as usual, supporting the club that became, quite literally, a matter of life and death for him. They will never forget that at Liverpool.
So it will never matter that Kenny Dalglish wasted £35million on Andy Carroll or, in season 2011-12, led Liverpool to their worst league position in 18 years. They remember the best of him, as a footballer, manager and man. They remember that he could play — and could he play — they remember the Double and the trophies and they remember the solemn figure who attended the funerals, post-Hillsborough; four in a day on one occasion, because he felt his duty so powerfully. It left him an emotional wreck.
Thankfully, Sir Alex Ferguson has never had such a terrible opportunity to prove himself to the people of Manchester. His feelings for the club, though, like his service, go beyond question. He has a road and a stand named in his honour, and a statue in the forecourt of Old Trafford. His efforts as good as built the ground and what we now know as modern Manchester United, from the megastore up.
VIDEO Scroll down to watch Moyes Out banner flying over Old Trafford
King Kenny: Dalglish shares a laugh with former team-mate Ian Rush in the Anfield directors' box
Harrowing: Dalglish is comforted by a police officer at Hillsborough 25 years ago
The stuff of legend: Dalglish scores the winner at Chelsea to give Liverpool the First Division title in 1986
Yet when the local newspaper asked who was responsible for this stuttering, stumbling, imposter of a season, almost a quarter of those polled named Ferguson.
He was berated from the stand as United lost to rivals Manchester City last week and a goal cannot be conceded at Old Trafford these days without the camera closing in on his glum, conflicted face.
It is as if every misstep is his fault and it wouldn’t happen at Liverpool. At Anfield, the enemy is never within.
Manchester United won on Saturday so Ferguson did not have to endure a fresh round of impertinence about his final act as manager. Yet this week brings the visit of Bayern Munich and if United defend as they did against Aston Villa the blood-letting will start once more.
United are always one good opponent away from the next crisis and when it arrives all eyes will turn to Ferguson yet again: the man who picked David Moyes. He might as well have left a dead fish behind the radiator in his office.
The Chosen One is the contentious banner at Old Trafford. Whose chosen one, they chorus bitterly. Ferguson’s chosen one. The claim is that he nominated Moyes because he feared being overshadowed by Jose Mourinho.
Short memories: Some United fans vocally criticised Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to choose David Moyes as his successor during the 3-0 defeat in the Manchester derby
Immortalised: Ferguson has both a statue and a street named after him around Old Trafford
A force to be reckoned with: Current European champions Bayern Munich come to Manchester on Tuesday
Chosen by whom? The Stretford End banner remains at Old Trafford after United's 4-1 win over Aston Villa
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He wanted a mini-me, a Fergie-light, a pale imitation. So this is his doing, his fault, his mess. He picked a dud and left him with a team of has-beens. And now he sits in the stands, casting his shadow over his replacement and a club in decline.
It won’t be long before he gets his own pre-match fly-by.
THANKS FOR NOTHING, FERGIE YOU MUPPET, it will read.
So what was he supposed to say in the meeting then? The day he announced his resignation, and David Gill, the chief executive, joined him in edging out of the door. When, suddenly, the club was looking at a future without its two leading operational figures, day to day.
What was he supposed to say when they asked for his thoughts on a successor? Get stuffed? None of my business? If it wasn’t his business, for heaven’s sake, whose business was it?
Arsene Wenger now says he won’t have a say in the succession at Arsenal, but why? Who do you think better knows a manager: Wenger or chief executive Ivan Gazidis?
Can you imagine the outcry if it emerged Manchester United had let the greatest manager of all time toddle off into the sunset, and had not attempted to pick his brains?
One imagines he wishes he had never got involved now. ‘Don’t blame me,’ he could say slyly, off the record, when asked about United’s turbulent season. ‘I didn’t pick him.’ And he could pluck a currently fashionable figure out of the air — Mourinho or Jurgen Klopp, for instance — and everyone would scribble away about United’s foolish error in not consulting Ferguson, the most successful manager in history. How did they just let him walk?
A master of his art: Ferguson guided Manchester United to two Champions League wins, the first pictured above, 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and three League Cups
Lucky for some: Ferguson retired after his 13th Premier League title, seemingly leaving the club in great shape
Except Ferguson would never operate like that, and do you know why? He wanted to help. Genuinely help.
He wasn’t worried about being overshadowed, or forgotten, or usurped.
He didn’t want to be the puppet master or the mentor, the power behind the throne. He knew how he had done it at Old Trafford, and he no doubt thought Moyes best-placed to carry on those methods with minimal disruption.
He wanted to leave the club in safe hands, sit back and watch them win again.
There would be no worries about his looming presence.
Handover: Ferguson picked David Moyes as his successor after more than 26-and-a-half years in the Old Trafford hotseat
Uncomfortable viewing: Ferguson watches as United lose 3-1 at Jose Mourinho's Chelsea
After all, what was he supposed to do, go to watch Manchester City?
‘When you are a part of a club like ours it is very difficult to leave it,’ he said earlier this year.
Job done, he was going to sit in the best seats and cheer his team, like any fan.
Some would say he picked the wrong manager to do that, but he didn’t.
He just picked the wrong club; one with very short memories and a well-honed sense of entitlement, sadly.
West Ham fans have right to expect better football
What an ungrateful lot. Sam Allardyce, manager of West Ham United, was positively indignant.
‘I started at 16, got into the first-team at 18, I’m 59 now and I’ve never been in a place where I’ve won and got booed,’ he said. Since when, many have rallied to his cause.
Kenny Dalglish said that if the fans wanted better football, the board needed to invest in better players, which is a little confusing considering two of those bought during Allardyce’s tenure, Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing, cost Liverpool a combined £55million when Dalglish was manager.
And that’s the point, really. West Ham’s board have backed Allardyce. Carroll cost £15.5m (the club record), Downing £6m, Matt Jarvis £10.75m (a club record at the time), Modibo Maiga £5m and Kevin Nolan £3.5m in the Championship.
A chorus of boos: Sam Allardyce was stunned at the reaction which greeted the final whistle following a 2-1 victory over Hull
Significant outlay: West Ham spent a club record £15.5m on Andy Carroll (left) - and Stewart Downing cost £6m
Lucky break: West Ham beat Hull thanks to James Chester's (front, centre) unfortunate own goal
For that kind of outlay, Allardyce is not going to get chaired shoulder-high for keeping a club up with gruesome football. He is no underdog. For the money spent, West Ham should be exactly where they are now — Allardyce is scrambling par.
He got booed on Wednesday night because West Ham were second best for much of the game against a Hull City team who had their goalkeeper sent off, unjustly, after 23 minutes. West Ham won through a deflected own goal.
It was explained that, knowing Hull, Allardyce had picked a team for a low-scoring match. One problem with that: Hull had scored 22 away goals going into the fixture, West Ham 18. Hull had also played fewer away games.
So call it Tony Pulis syndrome: the moment of realisation that the end does not always justify the means.
Pulis did a magnificent job at Stoke City. When he went there, the club had just finished 13th in the Championship. He got them into the Premier League within two seasons and remained there.
He reached the FA Cup final, the knockout stages of the Europa League and finished as high as 11th.
The end of an era: Tony Pulis made Stoke a Premier League force and took them to the FA Cup final
European adventure: Pulis guided Stoke to the Europa League last 32
The fault lies in Leeds, not in the stars
The Leeds United Supporters Trust are now lobbying the Football League for their club to be made a special case as it plunges towards financial oblivion.
The owners cannot now meet the wages after the collapse of the Massimo Cellino takeover, and LUST wish for this to be classified a force majeure — an event beyond the control of the club.
It is no such thing. If Elland Road falls into a sinkhole, it is a force majeure. If the team bus is hit by a falling meteorite it is a force majeure.
If your owners are skint, try to sell to a crook, and fail, it is a rotten business plan, no more.
Yet, having come 13th last season, he was sacked, and few mourned. Why? Stoke had reached a level of expenditure such that the supporters expected better football.
They weren’t happy with the direct, physical style any more. Mark Hughes was the perfect replacement. His teams were combative, too, but with a little more finesse.
Pulis is now at Crystal Palace, where he is doing another superb job; and the fans love him because survival is the sole motive.
That was the case at West Ham last season, but now the fans expect more. Not much more, not true glory or a cascade of trophies, but football that suggests progress, not a treadmill of grim battles.
West Ham’s front three of Carroll, Downing and Jarvis cost £32.25m; Liverpool’s front three of Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling cost £35.4m. To argue that West Ham’s owners are in some way cheap, therefore, is ridiculous.
Allardyce’s supporters ask if West Ham fans would rather go down, as if that is the only option: Sam or death. Yet Brendan Rodgers did not play Allardyce’s way at Swansea City, and Southampton don’t play that way, and nor does Alan Pardew at Newcastle United, and these are all clubs who have at times been threatened with relegation, yet survived playing expansive football.
It is not West Ham’s owners, or the fans, who need to raise their game.
And while we're at it
Here is what hurts the Premier League. When the chief executive of the Premier League says that Manchester United’s poor form hurts the Premier League. That’s what hurts the Premier League.
He is usually a smart cookie, Richard Scudamore, so what was he thinking? There are enough conspiracy theories flying around as it is, without giving the impression that the man in charge is sitting in his office calculating ways to get Manchester United back in the mix.
In an interview with La Stampa on December 29, 2008, Michel Platini said that, as UEFA president, he would love to give the trophy to his old club Juventus. He described himself as a Juventino.
We expect little more from Platini; he’s not the brightest, but Scudamore must surely know the potential for harm in his words.
Under examination: Richard Scudamore raised a few eyebrows by saying Manchester United's malaise is hurting the Premier League
Hard times: Champions Manchester United are 17 points off leaders Liverpool
Referees, by definition, like and respect authority. In the days when the royal family and senior government ministers sat side by side in the royal box at the Bernabeu stadium, visiting teams thought it very hard to get decisions against Real Madrid.
Even if Scudamore does not carry the same cachet as a king, his words still have resonance, even sub-consciously. Referees now understand it is in some way good for business if Manchester United thrive. We will never know if that suppressed notion has surfaced the next time United get a soft penalty.
Even if the referees are immune to it, the fans are not. They already suspect that many of Manchester United’s 20 titles were part of an elaborate conspiracy involving Sir Alex Ferguson, Howard Webb and any official who ever gave a contentious decision at Old Trafford post-1991. To hear that the chief executive of the Premier League in part regrets Manchester United’s failing campaign is exactly what they have long presumed.
Then and now: UEFA president Michel Platini has admitted a fondness for his former club Juventus
Not that Scudamore’s take is wrong. Manchester United are the biggest club brand in English football and as such operate as the flagship for the Premier League in the same way that Bayern Munich’s power and success promotes the Bundesliga. El Clasico in Spain would not carry the same prestige and worldwide resonance, and therefore not be of as much worth to La Liga, if Real Madrid and Barcelona were battling it out for seventh place.
Fine, we know this; just don’t say it if you are in a position of influence within the competition. And, if you do, don’t be surprised if the next time Chelsea have a tough away fixture kicking off at 12.45pm after an important tie in Europe, while Manchester United are at home to a relegation candidate on the Sunday, outlandish conspiracy theories fill the airwaves.
Didn’t the chief executive of the Premier League say it helped when Manchester United were successful? Yes he did. Incredibly, he did.
Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/article-2592983/MARTIN-SAMUEL-Ferguson-pick-successor-tell-United-stuffed-It-easy-choice.html