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 Red11 REDitorial

Published: 04 NOV 2005

by John Ryan

In my eyes he has no equal yet he is a flawed Genius. That is exactly how I see Alex Ferguson.

You can dress it up all you like but what the man has achieved at Old Trafford is nothing short of phenomenal. I could list all he's won but that doesn't detail all his achievements. You see when you manage Manchester United in three separate decades you must be a special person. When you shake the club so hard that within six years of your arrival it produces a Youth Cup winning side laying the foundations of a Champions League winning side then you have vision. When you continue against all the odds and setbacks to eventually realise your goals you have perseverance. To manage one of Europe's biggest clubs for 19 years in the modern game is unheard of. Yet for the past three years a whisper has gone around that Fergie should have gone in 2002. Now the whisper is gathering momentum. It's like seeing your dad get beaten up when you are six. It shouldn't happen, he should be invincible but nobody is are they?

I remember we played Charlton in 1994 in the FA Cup. Charlton were in the division below us. We had Schmeichel sent off for hand ball outside the box and Fergie rushed from his perch to take off Sparky Hughes. Brian Kidd stopped him and opted instead to take off Parker leaving Sparky to play up front on his own. United won 3-1 with Sparky bagging the first. That showed me Fergie was never a legendary tactician. But none of those players dared use the excuse of being down to 10 men for defeat to a non Premier-League team. Fergie had a side where the will to win was drilled into them. The players on the field reflected their managers passion. Like him their passion sometimes spilled over but it was all for Manchester United & was part of what made us great.

Although the Charlton/Kidd incident suggested Fergie was not a master tactician, Mr. Kidd also helped demonstrate Fergie's skills in other departments. Firstly, in the summer of 1998 they plotted the conquering of Europe and domestic football and looked at new players. Kidd wanted John Hartson, Fergie wanted Dwight Yorke. Dwight Yorke may only have sparkled for us for a couple of seasons but Fergie got it right. Then when Kidd left Fergie got in the man a lot of us think was his best number 2 of all. Steve McLaren brought new ideas, different training methods and after his arrival United won the treble. These sort of decisions win trophies. And to see Fergie snarling in fury on the sidelines giving us a wave when requested was heart warming. This man would do whatever it took to make Manchester United successful.

Fast forwarding to now we all try to pinpoint where things went wrong and how we began to slip. But Fergie is a victim of his own standards and his own success. He has repeated his success in different eras but right now if we are honest, the majority of fans have lost faith in his ability to do it one more time. The comparison with Liverpool's demise is inevitable. The difference is they achieved their successes with 4 managers compared to our 1. Comparing Fergie to Matt Busby he achieved even more than Matt did in trophy terms. After winning the European Cup, Fergie landed three more domestic titles, showing his hunger was still as bright as ever. In fairness to Busby though, he had encountered some awful situations that Fergie didn't.

The most hurtful thing in my eyes is those young whipper snapper journalists less than half his age who are delighting in Fergie's current situation. Take for example a guy in Ireland called Roy Curtis who regularly calls for people to be sacked in the sports world. He's like a bulldog chewing a pair of socks, thinking he's got a bear. I doubt Fergie's ever heard of him, but the lack of respect this guy shows a man as respected as Fergie is sickening. Sitting at a PC tapping out some clever quip doesn't make you a football manager. But it gives piss poor hacks their moment in the sun (no pun intended).

We will never again have a manager like Alex Ferguson. Throw accusations at him like promoting his family's business, being distracted by horseracing, using his brother as a scout or letting personal feuds cloud his judgment but you cannot deny his proven Managerial talent. Anyone who has guided teams to beating Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid in European finals deserves respect and praise. I just feel saddened by the current predicament he is in. Everything he does is suddenly questioned, analysed and flogged to death. Yet in almost comical fashion, journalists around Fergie are scared shitless. They won't ask him about Keane's interview or anything controversial which he has banned from press sessions. And he goes on, tough as old boots with shoulders broad enough to put Old Trafford itself on his back. That's Alex Ferguson, flawed genius but a man who over & over again did the business for our club. I honestly believe that we will not fully appreciate him until maybe five years after he has left Old Trafford.

Copyright © 2005 Red11. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced without permission of the author.

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