Sir Alex Ferguson’s full length Christmas day interview
He talks about Fergie time, Louis Van Gaal & developing players
Sir Alex Ferguson has earned everyone’s respect no matter whether people like him or not. You can’t argue against his success despite what you may think of his coaching style. However, everyone knows he planned his exit at the right time. Manchester United was on the verge of getting overtaken by Chelsea and Manchester City and Sir Alex wanted to go out on top. Can’t blame him for that.
Starting in May Sir Alex Ferguson will lecture in the Ivy League University’s new programme entitled ‘The Business of Entertainment, Media and Sports.’ This will be a long-term teaching position and the programme on The Business of Entertainment, Media and Sports will take place from May 7-10. Harvard students get all the luck. I hope some of his classes are available online because I would be incredibly interested to hear the wisdom of Sir Alex Ferguson (I may be a Liverpool fan but you can’t deny he is a fantastic coach). If they are I will make sure I find them and post them to the blog.
You all already know that Sir Alex Ferguson has announced he will be stepping into an administrative role effective at the end of this season. You all know that he is the best British manager of all-time. You all know that his direction has created a global culture of mighty red soccer only rivaled by mega-giant Real Madrid. He is a legend. He is a footballing god. He is an incredible story and one that could have ending before it started when he was almost sacked in the early 90’s. And now he is gone in every sense but the literal one. Still a few games remain in the swan song of his career. And the question remains for us (apparently the team was told who the replacement will be at training this morning) who will replace this man? Who can come into an incredible opportunity and continue the ridiculous success that Manchester United has become accustomed to?
The answer is not overly simplistic. There are many viable candidates for the job.
1) The self-proclaimed Special One
Mourinho is a great option for Manchester United. He has proven his managing ability in each of the top three leagues in the world. He has won trophies with Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid. He has managed some of the most unmanageable players in the world. But, he is rumored to be on his way back to the land of the overly rich and incredibly insecure, the Chelsea Abramovich’s. Does he really want to go back to where he was so cruelly sacked? I don’t think so. I also think that his close relationship with Sir Alex is playing a major role in why Ferguson is stepping down now. He has set it up. Mourinho’s desire to leave has already been out in the open. Manchester United is high profile. Mourinho is high profile. He wants to be back in England. I think it’ll be in red.
2) David Moyes
David Moyes is an incredible manager. He has turned zero transfer budget into a well-built machine of a team that was only a few results away from a spot in the Europa or in an incredible season the Champion’s League. With the budget he has, there was never a chance to win the league but he has continually proven to mold a team that will fight and scrap til the end. Fellaini and Baines could possibly be out at the summer transfer window and it is the right time for this boss to make the jump to the big time. I am not convinced that this will happen but all the tabloids seem to feel that it will.
3) My man Klopp
Brought a team from the bottom half of the Bundesliga with a less than satisfactory budget to become Bundesliga champions. Check. Brought said team to the Champion’s League final using many homegrown players brought through the Dortmund youth system. Check. Jurgen Klopp is touted as the next big manager in the game. “Next” should be switched to now. He is the real deal. He is devoted to his teams as he showed when he managed Mainz 05 even after they were relegated. He loves his job. His passion is relentless and his philosophies are apparent in his teams play. Could his style be successful in the Premier League with a team selected from the cream of the crop? Probably but it would be a transition from Fergie’s ways and do the Glazer’s have that kind of time to wait? I know the fans are expecting instant success. This is a long shot but a move I am secretly holding out for.
This is an exciting time for English Football Management. I use the term management because it can be argued that the Bundesliga has overtaken the Premiership as the best league in the world. Two massive jobs are open and there are plenty of well-qualified and hungry managers ready to grab the.
What do you think will be the outcome? Will United make the right choice or find themselves struggling to compete for a Champion’s League spot next season?
Two months ago United were looking at the treble and now they’ll have to be satisfied with only a league title this season. Two moments marked by a lack of composure have left United in this position. Nani’s reckless challenge and a moment of brilliance from Demba Ba will be burned into the mind’s of United fans, both symbols of a season of what-could-have-been. But perhaps a more troubling question stems from the decisions made long before these moments, set in a venue without FoxSoccer’s cameras, and without the pressure of millions watching on. The more troubling question for United fans must be: Why did Ferguson have to be so creative?
The most glaring and curious decision Sir Alex made in the two matches which saw United exit major competitions (Champions League and FA Cup) and almost every other match this season was to start Nani. In the few games Nani has played in the premier league, he’s experienced very little joy. To see Nani starting in the second leg of the Champions League match against Madrid was mind-boggling. What had Nani done do deserve such a spot? I’d argue his red card was not deserved, but neither was his position in the starting 11. Again, in the second leg of the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge, Nani is given a starting role. To be fair, Nani did some good things in the Champions League match but was absolutely woeful in the FA Cup replay. These decisions seemed too cute and unnecessary at such crucial moments in United’s season.
A second questionable decision made by Fergie was the absence of Wayne Rooney in the starting 11 in United’s loss to Madrid at Old Trafford. Tons of rumors have swirled since the Madrid fixture regarding Rooney’s future at United, and it’s difficult to understand Fergie’s reluctance to start United’s talisman for such a massive home fixture. Was Fergie looking to confirm his belief that United could perform and thrive without Wayne Rooney? Has he forgiven Rooney for his contract holdout a few years ago? Was Fergie seriously in the wrong?
A few other decisions will be second guessed: having Tom Cleverly play a winger position against Chelsea, leaving out Van Persie in the replay until United were already down, and starting Smalling in place of Vidic. And I’m not in the business of questioning a manager of Fergie’s character, but it just seems some of Sir Alex’s decision were too smart for United’s own good. With a 15 point lead in the Barclays Premier League, United have little need to really fight for anything and they will be left watching Chelsea face their crosstown rivals and Madrid square off with Galatasary in the following weeks, dreaming of what could have been.
There were few Premier League matches this past weekend. Matches were postponed as clubs like Man U and Chelsea battled it out in the FA Cup.
There were two epic matches on Sunday: Tottenham v Liverpool in the Premier League and Manchester United v Chelsea in the FA Cup.
Let’s start with Tottenham v Liverpool.
A thrilling game to watch all around. Suarez started the scoring off with a lovely goal slotted past Lloris in the 21st minute. Jan Vertonghen equalized with a header right before halftime. He added his 2nd goal in the 53rd minute to give Tottenham the lead. Stewart Downing got a lucky bounce on a lobbed back pass and was able to blast it past Lloris to even the scoring once again. Suarez was then brought down in the box to earn a penalty which Gerrard finished to give Liverpool the come-from-behind victory over the Spurs.
This is a massive missed opportunity for the Spurs to put a hold on the 3rd spot in the table. They have made the last 9 matches very interesting now, with glimpses of yet another collapse on the horizon. They have a tough road ahead with Swansea, Everton, Chelsea, then Man City after they play Fulham next weekend. Needless to say, they dropped some much needed points on Sunday and left the door open yet again for their North London rivals.
Now on to the other exciting match of the weekend which was Manchester United and Chelsea’s FA Cup match.
United kicked off the scoring with a beautiful header by Chicharito. Rooney’s 11th minute free kick somehow missed everything but David Luiz’s fro, which wasn’t enough to keep it out of the back of the net, which put United up 2-0. The 2nd half was all Chelsea however. Hazard was given way too much space just outside the box and curled in a ridiculous shot which left De Gea frozen on one knee as he watched it pass him into net. Nine minutes later Chelsea were level as Ramires slotted one past De Gea who got a finger to it. The Red Devils were lucky not to concede the game winner to Mata, but De Gea redeemed himself with a brilliant kick save to earn a highly anticipated replay match.
A side note from this match that is getting some discussion today is Rafa Benitez’s snubbed handshake by Alex Ferguson. Personally, I don’t see what the big deal was since it was before the match and not like Sir Alex was acting poorly following a match. It’s a huge rivalry match is a late stage cup round, you should show some distaste for the opposition. Another one of these ordeals the media just love to blow out of proportion.
Soccer is an incredibly subjective sport. Soccer has always been laden with controversial decisions made by refs who are expected to get every call right. (They are professionals right?) Soccer will always have situations and moments that outweigh a game’s results and carry endless banter arguments for years after the game’s final score is forgotten. So let me ask you this…In any futbol world is this a red card?
For me, it is an obvious decision but I am not in front of 80,000 raucous fans. I don’t have a million other things to be aware of and a million other decisions to make. I am solely focused on this play. IS THIS A RED CARD?
Let me settle the controversy for you. In no world is this a red card. Nani unmaliciously went up to trap a ball in a controlled motion with his sole focus on the ball. In no moment did he glance forward and see Arbeloa flying in to bring the ball down. It’s not a red, not on this stage, not when so much is riding on this game, not in my coed league on Thursday nights. It is a yellow. It’s done, we can move on with the game.
But alas, dreams are not reality and I was not privy to an even match yesterday afternoon. Still, it was an exciting game to watch. (At least for the first hour) Real Madrid dominated possession as was expected and the game took on an eerily similar look to that of the first leg i.e. Real Madrid keeps possession and looks to be in control and BAM! Manchester United strikes against the run of play and takes a 1-0 lead. It could have happened sooner than it did. Vidic had a fantastic header denied by the woodwork. United were home. You knew they would eventually break through and they did, in the form of a flubbed Varane clearance and well placed cross the the malicious man Nani which Sergio Ramos unluckily tapped into the net after a vital flick from Danny Welbeck. Some will say that the 1-0 lead was undeserved. I will say that it was. The organization and discipline United showed in the back was impressive and it thwarted every Madrid attack. Madrid might have had the bulk of possession in their own and middle thirds but once they entered United’s third there were no answers and no winning ideas. Sir Alex Ferguson had it right until the ref didn’t. He ruined the game. This would be my reaction too
That being said, it is not the first time a team has gone to ten men while holding a lead in the Champion’s League. From the card United were under constant pressure. There was no relief, no outlet for the mighty Reds. Real Madrid found an equalizer from a brilliant strike from none other than super-sub Luka Modric. Still, he never would have had that much space if the teams were even strength. I can’t take away any of the excellence of that strike though. De Gea had no chance as it bent from outside the frame onto the inside of the post and into the far side netting. 1-1 and game over for United. Three minutes later Real Madrid would take the lead for good and who other but former Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo to make it happen. Higuain slotted a ball across the front of goal that Ronaldo was able to latch on and slyly finish. A tough finish but a man of Ronaldo’s skill had no problem with it. There was no celebration for Ronaldo but he was just saving that for after Madrid won.
Manchester United would not lie down though. The last fifteen minutes were more exciting than I expected and provided multiple chances for United to equalize. None more apparent than another free header from Nemanja Vidic. But this time, goalkeeper Diego Lopez was up to the task.
All in all it was a thrilling game I couldn’t look away from. It was exciting and controversial and I only hope that some of the remaining Champion’s League fixtures bring the same kind of entertainment. Just to be clear, I don’t want to see another game decided by a referee’s poor judgement. I want adventurous and open play with clinical finishing. Barcelona and AC Milan is definitely one to watch!