This is going to be a delayed reaction to the Ferguson-Alan Wiley incident, but it’s international week, we have little else to talk about, so… sit tight, and read.
Ferguson’s rant, comparing fitness of European refs to butchers’ dogs, was, to put it mildly, genius. You don’t get people with the ability to draw such comparisons every day. Ferguson deserves to rant about absolutely anything just for the brilliance of his spontaneity. He could gone with ‘as fit as a fiddle’, or similar phrases bludgeoned to death by time. But no, he had to pick the butcher’s dog. So, for three days, people will spend time pondering over the culinary preferences of butcher’s dogs. Even a comic strip will be dedicated to the comparison.
But things don’t stop there. There is irony too. The same referee who had the ‘honour’ to share a joke or two with the manager a couple of weeks prior, got a dressing down of his lifetime. Well, dressing down is a euphemism; more like verbal lynching, if words could ever do that. It was enough to get half the world riled up like environmentalists at a newly opened plastic factory. The referees union reacted like displaced angry bees. Calls came from all quarters for the FA to ban Ferguson.
It was wonderful.
But then, something happened that was completely unexpected (well, for me at least). Ferguson released a statement of apology. Yes, the same Alex Ferguson; forgive me… Sir Alex Ferguson! Apologises! When was the last time the manager ever apologised for anything?
“Oh, I’m sorry for boycotting the BBC all these years. Time I apologise for not appearing on MotD all these years. What happened with my son was in the past. I’m sorry I termed them arrogant beyond belief. After all, they run on our tax money. Surely they have our interests at heart?”
“I would like to apologise to the fans of Manchester City, and the club. They are a great club, have the best fans and I should not have called them a small club with a small mentality. I never meant to call their credibility into question. Who am I to question them anyway!”
“I would like to make it clear that I’m sure Filippo Inzaghi was brought up well, and in a good environment. It was just a metaphor, and I didn’t really imply that he was actually born in an offside position. But, nonetheless, I think I will apologize for all the hearts I may have broken with my rant. Especially Inzaghi. I also did not mean to stereotype the Italians when I said they must have invented the smokescreen. I guess, too much obsessing about the Godfather can do that to you.”
“I apologise to Dennis Wise. I am sorry I said that he could start a row in an empty house. I made him look like a raging lunatic. I will revise my statement and say he could start a row with another human being. I mean, who in their right mind would start an argument in an empty house?! I didn’t know what I was thinking back then!”
“I would like to apologise to Beckham and Paul Ince. Incey, you are a great man. When I said you were a big time Charlie, I meant you were the man for the big games. And David, I’m sorry about the boot, I’m sorry I kicked you out of your dream club, and I’m sorry I didn’t approve of Posh. I mean she’s so graceful and lovely. You don’t see an iota of pretension in her. I was too young back then — you know, young men, hormones etc.; doesn’t make you think straight. You are welcome back whenever you’re bored of your American adventure — also, you know, World Cup year, and stuff…”
“I would like to apologise to Rafael Benitez for calling him arrogant, for his gesture against Blackburn. Sam is a good friend, but I think I must admit, I got too friendly with him to the point of not seeing the situation objectively. Also, I think Rafa was right about his ‘facts’. We always get favourable fixtures, and benefit from refereeing decisions. I don’t know why the union of referees are now calling for my ban though. I feel betrayed. Guess it’s all karma… er, where was I?”
See? You never see him apologising. Which is why when I saw the statement published on the Man Utd site, I had to take two steps back, wipe the coffee stains on my keyboard, and re-read that again. You hardly ever see a Ferguson apology, grudging or sincere. So you must spend time savouring the moment. When one looks back to the past, 20-30 years from now, all the United wins would certainly be looked at with fondness. But then, the trophies, the glory, the great players — they’re numerous. A Ferguson apology? Now there’s something unique and beautiful to cherish reading over, and over again.
Yet, you have the Mirror, the Mail, the Times, Jeff Winter, everyone you can think of, saying the apology ‘wasn’t sincere enough’. The gall of Jeff Winter to question his knighthood! Some people don’t please easy. And they say the British love irony.
A more serious — and hence, less fun — piece on Ferguson’s rant will be up, maybe in a day. But then, it may also be too late and we’d be talking about the Bolton game by then. Oh well…