Date:Monday November 6 2006
I actually think it's sad we have to play a League Cup tie tomorrow - otherwise, maybe, our league game could have been scheduled for Monday night to celebrate Fergie properly.
Oh, you all know what I'm talking about, don't you. Of course you do, why would you be here if not? Our hard-working, stubborn, determined Scot is celebrating his 20th anniversary as the manager of Manchester United - truly wonderful and absolutely astonishing.
I've been very, very young when he took over at Old Trafford - so young that I do not have any memories from that time. It was around 1993 that I realized what a beautiful game football is and it took two more years to come to terms with the requirements of consuming football - namely, that I had to choose a team. Well, anyone who has seen Eric Cantona playing after his ban may agree that it was an easy choice for a young man being full of unclear ideas about how the game should be played.
So it was then that I got to know our red-nosed, fiery manager who went on to receive knighthood. And it may sound strange but I'm honest: he was who finally convinced me my choice of club was the right one. You wouldn't guess why, would you?
Well, try it. All the success we enjoyed during the '90s? No. The Treble, the sheer brilliance of it as his two substitutes won the CL final for us? No. When these trophies came along, the players were in the spotlight, they were the ones who were praised at first - and quite rightly. We all admired them, loved them and it was much later that we realized the fact that Fergie was brilliant.
So, what was wonderful for me from the moment I started to watch football, was his celebrations. Every single goal - however meaningless, ugly, lucky goal it was - was greeted with a childish enthusiasm by this middle-aged Scotsman. I always hated managers who just sit there, apparently emotionless, when their teams score.
We all remember the Brian Kidd celebration (yes, I also remember though I wasn't a United fan at that time) against Sheffield Wednesday in 1993 and that embodied what I want if I watch a game: enthusiasm, passion and unreserved joy (of course skill and goals and chances I also want but I can't expect them from a coach). Sir Alex Ferguson was always literally bouncing with excitement whenever United scored and for, that showed his commitment and his will to win. I'm not saying that those calm managers who just sit on the bench are not committed - I just don't like it, that's all and Fergie provided an amusing and heart-warming alternative.
And there's one more thing I want to make clear now he's served 20 years at the helm. There were occasions down the years when I felt it would better if he resigned. Fortunately, these desperate spells did not last for long, as his drive and determination ensured that his team would never look really bad for a long time. Our last 4 years have been barren and mediocre compared to the success of the '90s. But, after my own spells of desperation ended, I started to become sick of hearing a lot of fans demanding his resignation. I simply felt it was thoroughly ungrateful towards him, after all he did for the club.
Let me put it straight before anyone would say I'm a nutter (you are perfectly free to say this, of course). I know he earned an astonishing amount of money in exchange for all his efforts. I know, too, that a football club is not some kind a charity organisation, that the fans expect trophies here and mediocrity is not an acceptable option. But this is the very point where I would challenge all those people who think Fergie's time is over. Are we mediocre?
No, I think not. It's true we haven't won the Premiership for three years now and have a pretty desperate record in the Champions League since 2002-2003. But is it enough to sack a man who won the Treble? It's not enough and I think nobody should even demand his resignation. There are a number of reasons why I think so.
Firstly, we still play good football. All the experimenting with 4-5-1 and 4-3-3 sometimes resulted in boring games and frustrating performances but we all remember how we beat Liverpool home and away in three consecutive seasons, we remember the 4-2 win at Highbury, the Cup final when everyone said we would have deserved to win by 3 or 4 goals and nobody praised Arsenal.
The second thing is, that we were never out of the top three. We're still one of the heavyweights of English football and not some mediocre has-beens as some pundits have suggested.
The third thing is, he's by far the best man to manage young players like Rooney and Ronaldo - by the way, it's a credit for him we have such footballers.
So, if you accept what's written above (you don't have to do it, you can argue) there's absolutely no reason to get rid of him. I'm perfectly happy to have him here until he says he's had enough. And you know what? Now I come to think of it, looking back on the past 20 years, I must say I wouldn't mind if he stayed for another decade.
Thank you very much for everything, Sir Alex!
Date:Monday November 6 2006
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