Archive for the ‘Sir Alex Ferguson’ Category
Becks retirement: Iconic football legend David Beckham deserves his special place in history of the beautiful game
There is no player in the history of the game who has done more to promote English football than David Beckham. And his retirement at the age of 38 will trigger tributes from around the world because his contribution to the sport has been unique.
Icon, celebrity, legend, superstar, ambassador. No one can bend it like Beckham. And no-one has given back so much to the beautiful game.
He may not be the greatest footballer who ever played the game. But Becks represents something special. Throughout his career he has made the most of his incredible talent, consistently revelled in proving the critics wrong when they have tried to write him off and brought glamour, dignity and pride to representing his country and a glittering array of the world’s most famous football clubs.
At Old Trafford he starred in the team that won an unprecedented Treble in 1999. But when Manchester United sold him to Real Madrid in 2003 after his infamous fall-out with his mentor and father-figure Sir Alex Ferguson, Becks was being outshone by a galaxy of stars.
It has been the same in Madrid, Milan, Los Angeles, Paris and during his long and illustrious England career. But there is no footballer who has worked harder to make the most of his god given talent, to defy the critics who regularly tried to write him off or to win over the fans who did not always love him.
There is no greater measure of the man than the way he turned around the obscene hatred he endured after being sent off in the 1998 World Cup for petulantly kicking out in that epic quarter-final defeat by Argentina.
The way he singled-handedly dragged England to the 2002 World Cup with an unbelievable performance in the decisive qualifying match against Greece was the stuff of legend, crowned by his remarkable injury time free-kick that completed the journey from villain of 98 to glorious hero.
Born on 2 May 1975, David Robert Joseph Beckham made his name playing for his boyhood heroes Manchester United. As a youngster he attended one of Bobby Charlton’s football schools in Manchester and won the chance to take part in a training session at FC Barcelona. After trials with Leyton Orient, Norwich City and Tottenham Hotspur, he became part of a famous group of youngsters who won the FA Youth Cup for Manchester United in May 1992.
He went on loan to Preston in 1994/95 before returning to Old Trafford and making his Premier League debut for Manchester United in a goal-less draw against Leeds United on 2 April 1995. At United he went on to win six Premier League titles, two FA Cups and the European Champions League with United in that famous Treble-winning year of 1999.
In 2003 he signed for Real Madrid where he spent four years winning the La Liga championship in his final season before joining LA Galaxy. His five-year spell in America included a mid-season loan spell with AC Milan in 2009. He finally left the States to join Paris Saint-Germain in 2013 where he bows out at the top after winning the French League.
Beckham’s international career saw him win 115 caps for England between 1996 and 2009, including six years as captain. Twice runner-up for the FIFA World Player of the Year, he was the world’s highest-paid footballer in 2004 when his commercial earnings boosted his salary at Real Madrid.
This is the day that Manchester United fans have feared for so long that it feels like the end of the world. Sir Alex Ferguson is retiring as manager.
Most of his squad was not even born when Fergie arrived at Old Trafford from Aberdeen in November 1986 and set about “knocking Liverpool off their perch.”
To simply catalogue his achievements and a record breaking haul of 38 trophies in 26 years that have made him the most successful British manager of all-time is only part of this epic story.
The Governor from Govan is not just a man, not just a legend – but simply the best.
He has not merely won trophies. The Emperor has built a dynasty. He has restored pride and glory to the most famous football club in the world. He has created a never-say-die spirit that gives the Theatre of Dreams a mystical aura that is indefinable. During Fergie’s reign his successes on the pitch have been reflected in the transformation of Old Trafford into one of the world’s greatest stadiums – the Mecca for a global following who worship the Red Devils. He has made generations of players past and present feel a unity and a belonging that is unique in the game. He is the godfather who oversees the family that is Manchester United.
We all knew that this day would come. But that does not diminish the feeling of shock that is reverberating around planet football as United’s vast army of fans in every corner of the world come to terms with the news.
Peter Schmeichel - who won five domestic titles and the Champions League, in United’s Treble winning year of 1999 – summed up the feelings of many when he tweeted: ‘Disappointed, shocked, sad. Didn’t think THAT day would be today.’
The voice of MUTV, my old pal Paddy Crerand was audibly shocked when he went on BBC 5 Live and declared: ”I’m just stunned. God help the poor fellow that’s going to have to follow him because the standard he has set is incredible.”
United’s chief executive David Gill, who said working with the Scot had been the “greatest experience” of his career, paid tribute by adding: ”What he has done for this club and for the game in general will never be forgotten.”
Fifa president Sepp Blatter tweeted: ”His achievements in the game place him without doubt as one of the ‘greats’. It was an honour to present Sir Alex with award at 2011 Ballon D’Or. Will his longevity at the top ever be repeated?”
Paul McGrath, who played under Ferguson during his early days at Old Trafford, simply tweeted: ‘Sir alex ferguson . Respect .!’
Michael Owen - who recently admitted his career would have lasted so much longer if he had started out at United and not Liverpool – said: ‘What a privilege to have played under arguably the best manager the world has ever seen.’
Paul Ince explained why the timing has been such a surprise: ”I was totally shocked. What he has done is unbelievable. You can’t explain winning all those Premier League titles not to mention the Champions League, FA Cups – he has done the lot and you will never see anyone of his kind again. Two weeks ago he was talking about staying on for another two years so it has come as a massive shock.”
The sense of shock was also reflected on by Dwight Yorke who said ”Is the timing ever right for Sir Alex Ferguson to retire? I don’t think so. I think he has really taken the football world by surprise.”
The tributes from around the world will be endless and #ThankYouSirAlex will trend on twitter for days to come.
When the great man walks out for the final home match of the season against Swansea City on Sunday, for the last time as Manchester United manager at Old Trafford, it will be one of the most emotional afternoons in the history of the club. It will be the day Fergie collects the Premier League title for an unbelievable 13th time, making it a record-breaking 20th League title in all for the Red Devils. It will be a day to reflect not just on the achievements of Sir Alex in winning trophies. But also to say a huge thank you to a man who has built an extraordinary Empire.
Why Sir Alex Ferguson must not walk away from Old Trafford when he vacates the Manchester United hot-seat
When Sir Alex Ferguson finally relinquishes the Manchester United hot-seat, and the frightening prospect for supporters of that happening in the next few days will be the biggest talking point in world football until the stock-exchange listed club make a formal statement, the greatest manager of all time must not be allowed to walk away from Old Trafford.
The Empire built by the Governor from Govan needs ongoing input from the man who created it, whatever the pundits and outsiders will have you believe. My firm belief is that there has to be a pivotal role for Sir Alex at the club once he steps down as manager.
The popular view among many so-called experts is that Ferguson will not want to replicate the disastrous scenario that followed the retirement of Sir Matt Busby. A catalogue of errors resulted in United being relegated to the old Second Division just six years after becoming the first English club to win the European Cup.
Not until well after Fergie’s appointment in 1986 did the Red Devils finally end a 26 year wait to become champions of England for the first time since Busby’s success in 1967.
But there is no comparison between the massive club that Manchester United have evolved into with the set-up that existed back in Sir Matt’s day. What Fergie has created is a complex multi-layered pyramid that is too big for any mere mortal to walk into and take over single-handedly overnight.
At United’s Carrington training ground Fergie has assembled a support system that is second to none. From the coaches and backroom staff to the top-secret medical science department that has helped guide players like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes to extended careers setting new standards in longevity.
The scouting network and youth academy that continually churns out youngsters with the pedigree, character and education to make the grade at the highest level are integral parts of the Empire that has consistently given United the edge in tackling all challengers, no matter how much money they invest in trying to conquer Fergie’s Kingdom.
There is also a big difference between the strength and depth of the current United squad assembled by The Boss compared to the ageing team in need of re-building handed over to Wilf McGuinness by Busby in May 1969. Even with George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton all still at Old Trafford, the squad that narrowly failed to retain the European Cup in 1969 was wafer-thin at a time when the club did not have the resources or the financial muscle that exists today.
Much will depend on whether Fergie’s successor is an established manager with the stature and aura of Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho, who the media have already told us is heading back to Chelsea, or an upcoming long-term leader with the potential to build a new era at Old Trafford.
Personally, I would like to see a former United legend like Ole Gunnar Solskaer, who understands how Old Trafford and Carrington ticks, to be moulded into the role for the long haul. Equally the highly rated David Moyes, once previously shortlisted as Fergie’s No.2 before he left Preston for Everton, has the pedigree and the potential to faithfully follow in Fergie’s footsteps.
But I also think there is an essential short-term role for a top coach with the high profile and experience of competing at the highest level to keep the ship steady while the apprentice is prepared for the top job.
Either way, there is a key role for Sir Alex to sit in the background and oversee the transition of power to the next generation because there is so much more to managing Manchester United than handing over the responsibility for coaching and team selection.
That is why, should the rumours turn out to be true that age has finally caught up with Sir Alex and the news that he faces a pre-season hip replacement will certainly restrict his involvement come August, I expect we will not be seeing The Boss walk away from his Empire – even if he does hand over the responsibility for managing the first team.
Is Wayne Rooney world class? Why England’s finest will shape up and accept challenge to fulfill potential
How pathetic and predictable that the media jumped on the band-wagon of concluding that Wayne Rooney is on his way out of Old Trafford after he was left on the bench for Manchester United’s Champions League crunch encounter with Real Madrid this week.
There is always a stampede of opportunistic journalists and headline writers across every form of media, from newspapers and bloggers to radio and television, who revel in trying to knock sporting heroes off their pedestal, especially if they play for Manchester United.
Ignore all the media gossip and agent-inspired spin whenever you read a story about Rooney because the truth is 99.9 percent of speculation is absolute rubbish, even when so-called experts claim they have been briefed by reliable sources.
The truth is the media spend most of their time trying to guess what is really happening and there are only ever a small handful of people in the know. But newspapers do not care if they think a headline will sell more copies or attract more online viewers. It is that simple.
When Sir Alex Ferguson says Rooney is going nowhere and there is total silence from the player himself then you know that the media got it hopelessly wrong.
Speaking at his press conference pre Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Chelsea, Fergie put the record straight when he said: “The Wayne Rooney nonsense first? Or do you want to talk sense? The issue you’re all going on about is rubbish. There’s absolutely no issue between Wayne Rooney and I. The suggestion we don’t talk on the training ground is nonsense. The decision to not play him was purely tactical and he understood that. Wayne will be here next year, you have my word on that.”
Forget the headlines, the real issue for me is that Rooney has underperformed on occasions over the last couple of seasons, not to mention the last three major international tournaments. And if he wants to continue to be regarded as truly world class, United’s England star must show he still has the hunger and desire to fulfil his true potential.
Despite all his goalscoring milestones, there is a sense that Rooney has never quite delivered at the highest level. Even though his record in the Champions League will suggest otherwise.
A remarkable statistic before the Real Madrid encounter was that Rooney had a better record in the Champions League knockout stages in goalscoring percentage terms than Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Didier Drogba or Robin van Persie. But there is no doubt in my mind that Rooney can do better. And that is the challenge he faces if he wants to be regarded as one of the true greats in Manchester United history.
My guess is that Rooney wants the everlasting glory to match his trophies and goalscoring exploits and being left on the bench will give him the nudge he needs to step up and get back to his best. There is no better club in the world to help him achieve his goals and in Robin van Persie he has a the perfect striking partner to make that happen.
Fergie clearly still thinks Rooney will deliver. And that will only change if he fails to respond by working hard to do his absolute best for Manchester United.
Nani red card disgrace Real insult: Curse of anti-British referees ruining Champions League and threatens EPL quota
The history books will show that a goal by Cristiano Ronaldo on his return to Old Trafford earned Real Madrid victory over Manchester United and a place in the Champions League quarter-final. But anyone who watched this epic clash of the giants of world football can have no doubt that a Turkish referee tipped the balance in favour of a Spanish side that was second best over both legs.
The harsh reality is that a hugely controversial red card for Nani has destroyed United’s hopes of emulating the glorious Treble triumph of 1999. And this is not the first time the conspiracy theorists can point to what looks like a blatant case of anti-British refereeing.
Only last month Celtic were on the receiving end of a shocking display by the match official that contributed to their crippling 3-nil home defeat by Juventus. Who can forget the outrageous Rob van Persie sending off in 2011 when he planted the ball in the net for Arsenal against Barcelona a millisecond after the ref had blown for offside. And we all remember the way Chelsea were refused a succession of blatant penalties in their 2009 semi-final against the Catalans.
This time it is United’s players and global following who are left shattered, inconsolable and feeling deprived of the chance of glory in a match that will forever be remembered for one of the worst refereeing decisions in the history of the Champions League. It is always a huge disappointment when a major football match is decided by a controversial decision by a match official. But never has this been more blatantly the case than Madrid’s ref assisted win in Manchester.
The full extent of the damage to English football may ultimately be felt by the whole of the Premier League. UEFA are looking for any excuse to reduce the EPL from four to three qualifiers for future competitions and with no qualifiers for this year’s quarter-finals because Arsenal are already dead and buried in their tie against Bayern Munich, this has been a disastrous season for English clubs.
Former skipper Roy Keane mischievously argued that the red card was justified in a blatant attempt to wind up his former employers and shamelessly gratify anti-United viewers on ITV. But any rational football fan will agree with Sir Alex Ferguson who furiously protested from the touchline over Nani’s dismissal.
There was no doubt that Nani only had eyes on the ball when he attempted to make contact with the ball in the middle of the park. But Cuneyt Cakir waved a red card in the face of the Portuguese winger after his acrobatic attempt to win the ball resulted in a high challenge on Alvaro Arbeloa. The Spaniard theatrically rolled along the turf and the Turk stunned a worldwide audience by reducing United to 10-men.
Not only was it a shocking decision that robbed United of a victory that was firmly in their grasp at a time when they were firmly in control of the match, leading 1-nil with 56 minutes on the clock, it destroyed a beautiful game of football. Even though he refused to be drawn on whther or not the referee had got it hopelessly wrong Jose Mourinho admitted:”The best team lost.” And there can be no more honest assessment by a winning manager than that, even if he does have one eye on the ultimate prize of one day replacing Sir Alex Ferguson in the king’s throne at the Theatre of Dreams.
United fans will not forget Mourinho’s humility when it comes to winning the public vote to become Fergie’s successor. Equally, supporters will respect the way former idol Ronaldo was equally apologetic when he struck the decisive blow after an outstanding equaliser by Luka Modric cancelled out the opening goal turned into his own net by Sergio Ramos after a telling ball in by Nani.
All this on the night Ryan Giggs celebrated his historic milestone of 1,000 career appearances with yet another outstanding performance at the heart of United’s midfield. And Wayne Rooney was left on the bench as Fergie pulled off a tactical masterstroke and nullified Madrid with a classic counter attacking display that worked perfectly until Nani unjustly received his marching orders.
COMMENTS: Please give me your feedback on twitter @johnnielegend @visionsportTV
Below: No penalty: Did the ref ignore Ramos clearly holding back Danny Welbeck in the box?
What a huge error of judgement by Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew: hypocrite who manages “wee club in the north-east”
It is hardly surprising that Sir Alex Ferguson’s actions during Saturday’s thrilling victory over Newcastle United and his subsequent reaction to criticsm from beaten boss Alan Pardew has caused a media frenzy. But the truth is that Fergie has hit the target once again with his brilliant response to the ill-judged words of the Magpies’ boss..
When the Football Association confirmed no action will be taken against Ferguson for confronting referee Mike Dean and his assistants before the start of the second half over the controversial way they allowed Newcastle’s second goal to stand, it was a slap in the face for Pardew.
The Newcastle manager made his feelings clear when he announced that Ferguson’s conduct was worthy of a dismissal, adding that Dean will have been “slightly disappointed” he did not take action at the time.
But Sir Alex deliciously put Pardew in his place when he accused him of hypocrisy, describing him as a manager of a “wee club in the north-east” and passionately defended his right to confront referee Dean.
It was pure theatre at his Friday press conference at Carrington when The Boss declared: “Alan Pardew has come out and criticised me. He is the worst at haranguing referees. He shoves them and makes a joke of it. How he can criticise me is unbelievable. He forgets the help I gave him, by the way.
“I was demonstrative but I was not out of order. The press have had a field day. The only person they have not spoken to is Barack Obama because he is busy. It is unfortunate but I am the manager of the most famous club in the world. Not Newcastle, a wee club in the north-east.
“I was demonstrative. I am always demonstrative. Everyone knows that. I am an emotional guy. But I was not abusive. I shouted Mike over. We walked towards each other. I was only on [the pitch] three or four yards. That has been overplayed. The problem for me is that the profile of this club is huge.”
For the record, Pardew was given a two-match touchline ban and fined £20,000 after accepting an FA charge of improper conduct for pushing an assistant referee earlier this season. He was also sent off during the 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur on 18 August when he pushed Peter Kirkup after claiming the ball had gone out of play during a Tottenham attack.
Why Robin van Persie – the missing link for Manchester United’s Comeback Kings – is bringing best out of Sir Alex Ferguson
It is only a matter of time before Manchester United tighten up their defensive frailties and when that happens Sir Alex Ferguson will once again have a team ready to conquer Europe. Do not rule out that happening this season with football’s greatest ever manager hellbent on crowning his career with victory in the Champions League Final at Wembley in May.
In the meantime, the football world can only marvel at the way the Reds have mastered the art of outscoring their Premier League opponents. The Comeback Kings did it yet again when they celebrated the holiday period with a breathtaking 4-3 Boxing Day triumph despite going behind three times against Newcastle.
Javier Hernandez grabbed the glory when he snatched the dramatic last minute winner at the Theatre of Dreams and the magnificent Mexican is once proving he is one of the world’s great predators in front of goal. But it is RVP who is now the main man at Old Trafford and gone are the days when United were over-reliant on Wayne Rooney.
Do not get me wrong. Rooney is still one of the best players in the world and his value to United is priceless. But it is no longer a crisis when Rooney is injured or off form – as he clearly was at Swansea on Sunday. RVP is a rare talent of a different kind and it is no exaggeration to compare his influence on Ferguson’s team to the effect Eric Cantona had when he famously inspired the first Premier League triumph for the Boss back in the early 90s.
It is no wonder that Fergie reacted so furiously when he saw the Dutchman take that blow from Ashley Williams at the Liberty Stadium. In the week he celebrates his 71st birthday there is clearly a spring in the step of the manager who clearly still has that raging hunger for more trophies. And the reason for that is largely due to the signing he this week described as the “missing link.’
Not only is he the missing link. But as his national manager Louis van Gaal also declared this week that 29-year-old Van Persie “has become an even better player at United.”
The Holland boss declared: “Robin van Persie is getting better and better – it’s incredible. He is a super professional player who really knows what he wants from his career and how he will achieve it. I have never seen any player reach Robin’s age and still improve as a footballer. Moving to United has been good for him – and it has been good for Holland.”
Mind games: Roberto Mancini’s mistakes have put pressure on Manchester City in title race that proves it’s marathon not sprint
Mancini’s boast was a desperate attempt to inspire his expensive squad of players who have no experience in closing out a title-winning campaign. The sense of desperation in Mancini’s eyes spoke volumes. It was followed by a fortunate victory over Chelsea thanks to a lucky penalty award that turned the match late in the game. But successive draws against Stoke and Sunderland have seen City falter when the pressure has been on to keep winning.
Title rivals United, in contrast, made it six straight wins in the Premier League when they held their nerve to beat a stubborn Fulham last Monday and now have the chance to open up a five point lead with seven to play. That is the prize if United can avenge their home defeat by Blackburn earlier in the season and claim victory at Ewood Park on Monday night.No one in the United camp will be taking anything for granted in a League where every match is a possible banana skin for the top clubs. Sir Alex Ferguson promised as much after his side rode their luck and survived a late penalty appeal in the dying minutes of their 1-0 win over Fulham.
But United have players their manager has 100 percent faith in, unlike at neighbours City, where Mancini’s destiny could rely on two players he does not trust – Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez.
The difference between Fergie and Mancini is that Sir Alex has been there and done it all before – and so have most of his players. The canny Scot would never have put pressure on his team the way Mancini has. Every word he utters to the media is measured with the precision of an expert psychologist. That is why he is the master of the mind games that do come into play at this stage of the season, whatever Platt may like to have us believe.
The old adage that this is a marathon not a sprint has never been more appropriate than this season as Manchester’s top two battle it out for the title. While cocksure City looked unbeatable earlier in the season, now it is United who are showing their class and experience as they grind out straight wins – despite being in transition with so many youngsters in the squad.
While Mancini has had to swallow his pride and bring back Carlos Tevez, which can’t have been done without some psychological effect on at least some of his players, Fergie has been blessed with the return of the peerless Paul Scholes to settle Fergie’s young team.
Mancini has been honest enough to accept the blame on more than one occasion for tactical decisions that have cost his team points. That may come back to haunt him when his bosses assess the damage at the end of the season if he fails to deliver City’s first league title since 1968. Failure to beat Sunderland this afternoon when they were held to a 3-3 draw despite a brave fightback with two late goals, left the Italian critical of his players who have wilted under the spotlight.
There are bound to be more twists before the end. But it is now United’s title to lose – and you won’t find many bookies betting against the Reds making it League title no. 20.
Fortune favours the bold as Manchester United’s comeback kings peg back Chelsea and win a new legion of fans on planet football
In the great history of Manchester United comebacks the fightback from 3-nil down against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge was right up there with the best of them.
A penalty double from man-of-the-match Wayne Rooney and a point saving header from sub Javier Hernandez served up by the ageless Ryan Giggs crowned this latest escape by the comeback kings.
So irresistible was United’s recovery to finish all-square at 3-3, I would not be surprised if the Red Devils picked up another million followers around the world, such is the remarkable global reach of the Premier League.
While that parochial affair the Super Bowl gets excited about attracting a TV audience of over 100 million once a year, Premier League games are viewed in 643 million homes around the planet.
Officially the world’s No.1 league with an annual audience of 4.7 billion, it is matches like this epic showdown between the two teams who between them have won the Premier League for the last seven seasons that makes it top of the TV viewing figures.
Without England trio John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole, the Blues – fortunate to lead 1-0 at half-time courtesy of a Jonny Evans own goal – thought they had the match won when took a 3-0 lead. A stunning Juan Mata volley 24 seconds after the re-start and a David Luiz header deflected home by Rio Ferdinand left United with a mountain to climb.
But the champions bravely rolled the dice when Sir Alex Ferguson sent on subs Hernandez and Paul Scholes and went for broke risking a repeat of that 6-1 thumping by title rivals City. This time the gamble paid off and fortune favoured the bold as United survived a wasted opportunity by Fernando Torres.
Denied two strong penalty appeals in the first half, United got what they deserved when Howard Webb twice pointed to the spot and Rooney planted both spot kicks past Petr Cech. When Hernandez headed the equaliser six minutes from time United sensed a winner but in the end were thankful for a superb fingertip save by David de Gea from Mata.
“That game today epitomises what English football is about,” said Ferguson, who typically was disappointed to see his side drop two points in the chase of League leaders Manchester City.
BY JOHN GUBBA
It just goes to show you should never count your chickens . . . and that is what makes the Premier League the most watched football league in the world.
Blackburn Rovers arrived at Old Trafford rock bottom and with their fickle fans calling for the head of manager Steve Kean.
Manchester United were odds on to celebrate Sir Alex Ferguson’s 70th birthday with a win that would take them top at the turn of the year.
But Rovers’ enthralling 3-2 win leaves Manchester City in pole position on goal difference and the Blues now have the opportunity to go six points clear before United play again with games against Sunderland and Liverpool over the next 48 hours.
What makes the Premier League so exciting is its never ending ability to produce surprises – and you can bet there will be a lot more twists and turns before the title race is decided in May.