Monday, 7 March 2011

Does he have any redeeming features?

This descends into trivia, but has got my goat this weekend. If you want something with a little more import, head on over to Old Holborn's place, where it would seem that some serious shit has gone down. . .

Anyway, who is it that does not have any redeeming features?

I could be talking about William Hague, who has not had a good couple of weeks as foreign secretary. Indeed he's proven that the spirit of Palmerston is alive and well, although perhaps unfortunately for Baldy Bill, it seems to be living in the body of an assistant working on a whelk stall in Folkestone.

But I'm not though.

I could be talking about the poor old Duke of York, who appears to have made some very poor choices when it comes to friends. He's accused of being boorish, heavy handed and of having bad judgement. Well, he did marry that woman after all.

But I'm not talking about him either.

I'm talking about one of the nastiest, meanest and downright objectionable people to have occupied the public stage for the last twenty five years. He is arrogant, lacking in grace and manners, bears grudges whilst suffering from a towering persecution complex, which is kind of ironic, given his history of embarking on campaigns against other individuals, and is a master of hypocrisy.

To many people he is a hero, to many more his is the role of villain, posturing, shouting and screaming, bullying and intimidating others. Who am I speaking of?

Sir Alex Ferguson, the manager of Manchester United. I have no club axe to grind here, I was the supporter of a small non-league team until they went out of business last summer. It always amuses me that the supporters of five or six clubs perpetually accuse each other of trying to buy the title, long gone are the days of the The Lisbon Lions, the Celtic team that won the 1967 European Cup when all team members were from within 30 miles of Glasgow. I have no problem with United, Ferguson I have a big problem with however.

His latest act was to refuse to speak to the media following United's 3-1 away defeat to Liverpool over the weekend, he also barred his assistant, Mike Phelan (who normally does the talking to the BBC, more of which in a moment) and senior player Ryan Giggs from talking to the media post match. It is a mark of the man that on the fairly rare occasion when United lose (and for all his faults there is no doubt that for a generation, Ferguson has proven himself to be one of the best, if not the best in the game) this is the sort of stunt that he pulls. I cannot remember any occasion where having lost we've seen Ferguson come out and say 'fair play to the opposition, they were the better team today and deserved the victory'. You see, Ferguson's United, in his mind, are never beaten, they are cheated by a dishonest opposition, a negligent or colluding referee, a poor pitch, on one famous occasions by the colour of their shirts. I'm not a psychologist, but I'm betting he's a fascinating case study and it certainly seems to work, I'm guessing that a lot of his team talks are based upon the concept of a band of brothers, struggling against a system which is set up to penalise them.

This latest episode all comes down to comments made by Ferguson following the recent game against Chelsea. United lost, and, surprise surprise, it was all down to the referee, Martin Atkinson. Atkinson, it would seem did not send off a Chelsea player that Ferguson considered should have been sent off. Ferguson said that he 'feared the worst' when he heard that Atkinson had been selected for the match and that 'You want a fair referee – or a strong referee, anyway – and we didn’t get that.'

On the sending off that wasn't he said: 'He does Rooney clear as day, [Atkinson was] six yards from it, he doesn’t do anything'. Ferguson has form in this area and is the subject of a two match suspended ban for similar displays, he may well find himself barred from the dressing room and pitchside for four games when the wheels of FA justice finish turning. I have no problem with any manager or player criticising a poor refereeing performance, but here Ferguson is questioning the integrity of a fellow professional, and that isn't on.

It is also the height of hypocrisy, given the line trotted out by Mike Phelan following an elbow that was thrown by Rooney in the game against Wolves, an assault which the referee decided did not merit ejection from the game, to the amazement of the non-United supporting public. Without any hint of irony, Phelan told the BBC that 'The referee saw what he saw and he kept the game rolling. We can’t dispute a referee’s decision. He is out there on the field to take charge of the situation.'

Quite, well, what's good for the goose, or does it only count if the decision is in United's favour? If it isn't then it can be disputed until the cows come home.

So why was Phelan talking to the BBC? Well, in 2004, the BBC made a documentary about Jason Ferguson, one of Sir Alex's sons, who was acting as a player agent. The programme made some allegations about Jason's activities and character that perhaps did not reflect well on either Ferguson. As a result of this, Ferguson never speaks to the BBC. I have never heard of any action taken against the BBC for defamation, so make your own judgements on that.

I can't stand this man, his attitude, his behaviour, his face, his inability to chew gum with his mouth closed, his habit of threatening reporters who ask him a question he doesn't like that they'll never work again. In my opinion he is a bully, who tries to use his position to belittle others and expects special treatment, treatment that would have him ranting if others received it.

He's not the only villain of the story, Wenger at Arsenal is notoriously short sighted, Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea seems to blithely allow the most appalling behaviour from his charges, the list goes on. But Ferguson takes the biscuit. The best line I heard about him was on the radio the other day; 'He could start an argument with the Dalai Lama, in a prozac factory.'

I detest him, especially when you consider him against the character of one of his contemporaries, the late, great Sir Bobby Robson.


Richard said...

You've just identified one of the reasons why I can't stand football. You obviously know enough to anatomise the man's failings. I just look and go 'erk'.

Anonymous said...

This is the funniest Mash I've ever read::

Anonymous said...

This is par for the course in Glasgow. Perhaps he's been taking tips from Neil Lennon. :)