In the aftermath of our exit from Europe, the question everybody seems to be addressing is whether Sir Alex Ferguson will survive as manager. For example, the BBC‘s leading story: What now for humiliated Ferguson?
The bookmakers aren’t in much doubt. William Hill has Ferguson as the fourth most likely Premiership manager to be sacked, after Souness, O’Leary and McCarthy. Fergie is also at 11-10 to leave United by the start of next season. SAF is only on a 12-month rolling contract that comes up for renewal at the end of the season. Should the Glazers decide to act, there is no need for dramatic sackings or expensive pay-offs.
In yesterday’s post, I urged for loyalty to SAF, only to be berrated by mates (of course Arsenal and Chelsea supporters in the main) comparing MU sticking with Fergie in gratitude for all the success he has brought us, to Brian Clough staying on way too long at Nottingham Forest– and look what happened to them!!
But I wasn’t just urging us to stay loyal to Fergie on the basis on sentiment. Let’s just consider the record for a moment, based on facts. Since the creation of the Premiership in 1992, so 13 seasons ago, MU have won it 8 times, finished 2nd three times and third twice. If that isn’t consistency in a sport that is up and down in its very nature, I don’t know what is. And this apart, our record in the Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup, in terms of consistent achievement- is second to none (apart from Real Madrid in the CL).
We have won FA Cups, the famous treble in 1999 which included the Champions League, League Cups and Charity Shields. Okay, we ended up trophyless last season, but we truly were robbed in the FA Cup Final by Arsenal.
The other area that SAF seems to be getting a lot of criticism is with his transfers. Again, let us look at the facts, even though these “know it alls” who criticize with the benefit of hindsight almost do not deserve a response to. Here are SAF‘s supposed “big” mistakes:
2. Goalkeepers– various.
4. Midfielders – various
In the case of Veron, it is a truly unfair criticism. Every club in Europe wanted to sign him and would have done so. The fact that he didn’t work out was no fault of Fergie‘ s and passing him off on Chelsea for 15m was a coup in itself. In terms of the goalkeepers, SAF bought the best and that the fact that even a World Cup winner like Barthez couldn’t fill the shoes of Peter Schmeichel just shows how hard it was to find someone. Finally, in Edwin Van der Sar, this situation seems to have been remedied. Rio was expensive, yes, but the transfer market was in a different context when we bought him and I would argue that he remains a solid buy and potentially will be the best defender in the world. His value to us can be seen by our results with him and without him last season, owing to his 8 month ban. Forlan was an excellent prospect and this can be seen at his achievements at Villareal since he left us- he just wasn’t suited to the Premiership. And finally, in the case of a series of defensive midfielders who didn’t work out, such as Jose Kleberson or Eric Djemba Djemba,- well…that’s life, quite frankly. One can’t expect every player to perform to the level that you had hoped. Both had great World Cups and huge potential, but just didn’t quite fit the bill.
And what of SAF‘s many successes in the transfer market? Roy Keane, Solskjaer, Cantona, Silvestre, RVN, Sheringham and many, many more!! Even last season, nobody doubts that Gabriel Heinze and Wayne Rooney were fantastic buys. And this season- Ji-Sung Park for 4m and Edwin Van Der Sar for 2m were total bargains. Plus one has to consider the huge success of MU‘s youth system- not only in terms of creating players who have dominated the Premiership: Scholes, Beckham, Giggs and the Nevilles– but also who, when sold, generate funds for the club from a zero original transfer investment.
Even now with players like O’Shea, Fletcher, Richardson and Bardsley breaking through into the first team- this tradition continues. And with the risk of sounding nationalistic, the fact is that MU remains an essentially British team, unlike almost all the other “big” clubs.
In conclusion, the truth is that there is just no patience anymore amongst the press or the supporters. SAF has said many times that we are in the midst of building our 3rd great team of his stewardship, based on youth. The skeleton of this team can already be seen: Howard, Bardsley, Ferdinand, Brown, Pique, Heinze, O’Shea, Richardson, Fletcher, Ronaldo, Park, Smith, Rooney, Rossi and many other young squad players knocking on the door.
Do we not trust SAF enough to deliver on this? Do we expect immediate success?
At any rate, after all the above is said, who would you replace SAF with anyway? O’Neill? Allardyce? McClaren? Moyes? Erikkson? Hitzfeld? Bruce? Hughes? Come on!!! Pull the other one…..