Why Fergie Is So Precious to United

Talk about longevity; talk about loyalty; talk about a man who values the club and you have the knight from Govan. Yesterday I managed to finally get my hands on Sir Alex Ferguson’s full length interview with Sir David Frost [for those who haven’t seen it yet, here’s the Megaupload link. Download it before it eventually gets yanked off]. Watching it made me realise — not for the first time, though — how blessed our club is, and we as fans are.

Let’s get the superlatives out of the way first, lest it come in the way of bigger things: he is the greatest British manager ever. Even the thickest scouser will acknowledge that; not that their approval counts for anything. But he is to us the greatest ever, with all due respect to Sir Matt Busby.

On the interview, there wasn’t much, by way of actual content, that wasn’t already available to us — thanks to excerpts already published in the dailies one day prior. But there is only so much picture written words can convey in comparison to actually seeing them being spoken. [The closest analogy I can think of would be watching a match on television versus watching it in the stadium; the former restricts your view to the scope of the camera missing the nuances one can pick up by doing the latter — not to mention, the role of the former in increasing the chances of a commentator influencing your ability to form an independent opinion.] Watching Fergie speak, exposed you to his demeanour; the way he went about answering the questions put to him; the shrug; the twinkle in his eye as he spoke about his matriarchal grandmother — one could even see a bit of the child in him as he spoke. For someone with a keen interest in knowing a great manager, watching interviews like these are priceless.

He had the relaxed air of someone who knows he’s achieved what he set out to. And yet, the hunger to succeed is very much there. In hindsight it’s easy to say what I am about to say now, but I’ll say it anyway: I had doubts in my mind at various stages in the season, more so in the closing stages (after Chelsea beat us). I was chewing away at my nails ferociously, when I saw the pre-match conference of the Champions’ League semi-final against Barca. The relaxed vibe that Fergie generated when many a great man might have mumbled a few words in nervousness, calmed my nerves instantly. Cut to the speech he gave following the West Ham win. If you saw it — and I emphasise this, if you saw it as against read it in the papers — you instantly knew, here was a man who knew he had the Premier League firmly in his grasp.

The interview I saw was another such glorious moment.

Which is why another contradictory feeling crept in my mind: one of dread. Here was a man, who has been running the club for well over two decades and has, for all practical purposes, held the club through his sheer will. Not only has he been a symbol of continuity, he has used this continuity to bring about change like no other club has been able to that could survive the vicissitudes of time.

Which is why the day — perhaps two or three years down the road — he decides he’s had enough would be the day David Gill and the directors would face the biggest challenge of their lives. It’s an unenviable situation, to have to make such a big decision, and an unenviable situation for the succeeding manager. How will he run (or change) a setup that has been in motion like a well-oiled machine for over twenty years. How odd would it be for some of the staff (or the players, or the OT regular) to see a new face take his seat in the dugout that was the preserve of the Scot. But then let’s not make this a debate on who should succeed him. [That has already been done before.]

The club has endured hardships of the worst kind and always emerged stronger. They say no one is bigger than the club, and it certainly is true of Manchester United. But if there could be someone big enough to come close, it is Sir Alex Ferguson. For my generation of United fans, Ferguson is Manchester United. The club won’t die if he leaves — far from it. But for a few years, it might seem unfamiliar — like an almost completed jigsaw puzzle of a thousand pieces with one piece missing from the corner; it looks good, but not quite the same as all pieces fitting.

Yes, he may not be the same raging socialist, son of the soil person that he was before. He may have made mistakes along the way (some of which he has admitted), but the glint in the eye, the nod to his roots were all there and unchanged from the days [that I’ve seen of him]; only better and more relaxed.

It’s not everyday that I feel the urge to thank Sky for having made this interview possible [although a big part of me revolts]. But thank heavens we’ve had the opportunity of seeing such greatness unfold before our eyes — the extent of which we’ll only fathom when we recount tales of these glory years to our grandchildren.

Thank you Fergie, for all these years. And thank you for inspiring me to write all this, in the first place.



  1. I am a Blue fan and I would say any day that “Fergie is the best”. And to make matters worse, I don’t feel like hating Fergie even though I’m supposed to, and I try hard to.

  2. Aravind, good on you, hate is never a good thing!. When you say your a blue fan, do you mean Man City, or Chelsea or some other blue team?. Whatever blue team you mean, do you post on a red blog purely out of respect for Fergie, or do you enjoy United too?.

  3. Theres definitely another reason why SAF doesn’t want to sell him, if indeed the snub story is true or maybe he’s getting soft, cus i’m sure the Sir Alex that we all know when Beckham was here wouldn’t stand all the cr@p that Ronaldo is playing at, and for the fact that he said he’d have Ronaldo rot at the stands than sell him to MADRID(mind you i don’t think he said sell him, just not to Madrid) proves what i was thinking, which is letting a third player from Utd go to Madrid would appear like we’ve become a feeder club to them which is an insult on our status as the biggest club in the world.

    Also i agree with Grog, i’m not insulting Nani, but really i don’t see him being loyal to the club either, i’d like to be proven wrong but deep inside him, he probably doesn’t dream of sticking with us for a while.

  4. RD, if you truly believe that Nani will be dis-loyal to the club, then please substantiate your claims with some solid facts. It is not enough to question a players loyalty by just saying I think that he won’t be loyal. From what I have seen and heard from Nani on MUTV, he loves the club, and is always saying how happy he is. Yet he is a shy person, and tries to hide his shyness under this giggling, and crazy enthusiastic celebrations whenever United win the trophies. He couldn’t finish an interview post CL win, at the players awards, because the other players were teasing him, and he ran away from the camera. Only time will tell whether he will be loyal to the club, but I see no signs to doubt him at the moment. If anybody else has seen any signs that he is not wholeheartedly enthusiastic for the club, PLEASE ENLIGHTEN ME. But I don’t think there is anything.

    RR, the GF is worried about me, because I am becoming an insomniac. Nothing to do with Red Rants though LOL.

  5. You people just get worse and worse.

    First, Ronaldo is disloyal based on some piss-poor unsubstantiated contrived tabloid-esque crap article written by some hack with too much time and not enough pay.

    And now, Nani is disloyal based on absolutely nothing at all. Just because he doesn’t walk around in a United cap and verbally felate the club at every given opportunity, he’s now disloyal. Judge, juries and executioners here. Utterly pathetic.

    What next? Nemanja Vidic hasn’t particularly professed his undying love for Man United. He doesn’t go round wearing United caps mouthing off about how commited he is to the club. Let’s lynch him too fellas.

    We don’t need to hear anything from the player, hearing absolutely nothing is good enough to conclude they’re disloyal. In fact, whilst we’re lynching players for not saying much, why don’t we get Paul Scholes? He hasn’t exactly been too forthcoming in his love for United.

    Ronaldo, Nani, Vidic, Scholes. They’re all disloyal bastards who don’t love the club. Get them out.

  6. To put the record straight once and for all, I never called Nani disloyal. I just commented that I wasn’t sure what he was thinking or how he felt. To me he is an enigma. He could end up being the second coming of Bobby Charlton when it comes to loyalty. I don’t know. I just think he’s really quiet and because of that he is hard to gauge. I just haven’t seen a verbal or emotional statement of commitment to the club which reminds me of Ronaldo. That is not me saying he will bolt like Ronaldo. When you don’t hear anything from a player you can think almost anything. And I have actually seen a couple of interviews with Vidic where he has professed his love for the team and how happy he has been. And why would I be stupid enough to question Scholes? Has he not shown up every year after year? When Nani has over 10 years with the club maybe he’ll get that kind of benefit of the doubt. That’s just overreacting to what I and RD are saying. JEEZ! 😕

  7. I just read the most ridiculous thing in the Sun. Apparently Real is asking Ronaldo to go on strike. It’s hilarious 🙂 Go ahead Ronny strike. Isn’t that the same as Fergie sitting you down in the stands to make a point to you and Madrid? Seriously though, this tactic has got to make all of us laugh a bit. All the more reason to just sell him and rid us of the cancer. Time to turn the page to a new chapter in the history of Manchester United. At least we are doing so after a historic double so it will be a new challenge for Fergie, the players and all of us.

  8. Grognard, fair enough, but I’m just getting a bit fed up with the unwarranted sniping against our own players. It’s particularly unfair on someone like Nani who barely even speaks English. Imagine you yourself being a young player playing in a foreign country, and having your new club’s fans sniping about you because you hadn’t declared an undying love for the club you’ve barely been a year at. He’s here to play football for us, not placate us with fluttering eye brows and sycophantic praise.

    As for Ronaldo, and The Sun article, well it holds about as much water as The Times article which was being paraded as fact earlier. Don’t forget both papers are owned by Rupert Murdoch, they have the same agenda, and are both tainted by a higher power. Neither article has anything of any substance. I notice alot of people have decided to ignore the one article with confirmed quotes from Ronaldo’s mother, stating he will stay at Man United.

  9. RedAddict; What’s all this about being fair? Fair Smair! This is a rant blog and everyone has a right to rant to their hearts desire whether what they say has any creedence or validity or not. A rant does not have to be warranted and people don’t even have to have a valid reason to express their feelings. At least that is my definition of a blog that calls itself Red Rants. Perhaps RR thinks differently but I for one would not take part if thought police were constantly sniping at me for every controversial thing I said.

    It’s not for you or me to censor people and tell them what they can and cannot say, don’t you agree? Disagree with them or debate them but lets get away from the “I’m fed up” stuff because all it does is just agitate people and stoke their fire. I am occasionally guilty of trying to put people right when they say something wrong about players too, so I’m not faultless here. But I notice that there are some that just feel that it’s their divine mission to control the thoughts of others and and quash their freedom to express those thoughts. So I respectfully disagree with your comment although I do understand where you are coming from, and in theory you are correct. But then again if people just have a funny feeling in their gut that Nani will betray us all, well that’s OK too. It doesn’t have to based on logic, or proof or any higher intellect. I hope you are seeing my point as I am seeing yours. Again, believe me, I do understand where you are coming from. I and others should be more fair to players like Nani until and if they betray us. But sometimes it can get hard because our emotions get the better of us.

  10. While we discuss about Ronnie there’s big news around. Barca have surely got Dani Alves (Goal.com). Why are we talking about Nani out of no apparent reason I can see at all? And guys, it’s THE SUN AND THE TIMES. Two of the most rubbish, trash-talking newspapers that get sued pratically for every single article they write! They can offend a frog about being green! Too me it’s absolute nonsense spouting on their part. We got to relax about Ronaldo for now, stop quoting THE SUN AND THE TIMES and hope that SAF can stop worrying about the Ronnie saga and dip into the market for some decent players to retain our CL and BPL titles next season!
    @Grognard Yeah mate, I agree it’s called Red Rants for a reason. It’s your fingers and we all can post what we feel and think.

  11. Nice article RR… Can’t agree with you more about SAF. If anyone’s red till they’re dead, it’s SAF-almost literally.

    Just realized how SAF must be feeling because of HIM. It’s really not fair to the gaffer or the supporters or the team or for that matter any person who is in any way affiliated with Manchester United.

    Grognard- I agree that Tevez seems more sensible than other new “imports” to the team because he has a wife and daughter, so is basically “grounded” in Manchester (although I don’t know if his family is actually settled in Manchester, it seems that he is more of a real family man than the Casanova that is see-are-seven.) Also liked how he came out after the UCL final and said that he wanted to be signed permanently.

  12. Grognard – yes I think Tevez appears to be a gentleman. He’s written a song about the club, because he’s so happy here… that’s something you don’t see every day. Plus there’s his attitude on the pitch, which is obviously something he’s got from mother nature, but still the signal he sends by running around like a coked up poodle. Those are the types of players that are easiest accepted amongst the fans, because they give their everything everytime they play, even when they play poorly.

    Whether or not he’ll move on, we’ll see. First of all, we have to own him :-). Ronaldo is only a year into his contract, and that’s another reason why I find it so hard to believe that he should want to go. It is ungrateful if the desire is really there, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, until he actually gives a TV interview or something equally solid.

    I don’t mind player wanting away wit 2 years left of a 5-year contract, because many things can happen in 3 years. It’s just a puzzle to me, why anyone would want away from United, because it’s so obvious that it’s the best run club with the best people in the staff in the world.

    We have no Kenyon, no Hicks vs. the other guy, no Calderon, no one buying referees and so on. Our club is so well run these days, and it should be an example for the others to follow. And we can thank one man for all this, and you all know who. I’m not being disrespectful to all the others running the asses off every day at the club, but he’s the one who knew how to do it in the first place.

  13. Grognard, I’m not having a go at you, and in essence, I was debating. Some of you guys were accusing Nani of disloyalty, and I was merely fighting his corner by saying he’s new in the country, can’t speak the language, and it’s not his job to placate us with praise and commitment. I was also debating your evidence for his disloyalty, because it was based on nothing much at all. Just because I wholly disagree with what you say, please don’t say I was being thought-police. Not once did I say you weren’t entitled to this opinion and not once did I say you couldn’t express it. I just strongly disagreed.

  14. Wow! This must be an all time record for the number of comments an article has received on here hehe!

  15. [wakey]
    He flamed players, you flamed him. Again, you have a problem you email me. You don’t do it on the comments. Clearly you haven’t read the comments policy.

  16. wakey; I must admit I have a propensity to get overwhelmed by the media articles and it was I who came out last week and said that all this stuff that we were reading was BS until Ronny came out himself and said something. But then reports came out from sources I actually trust like The Guardian, Sky, and the BBC and they just reported much of the same. I tell you it gets you very depressed and angry all at once. I know better than to believe the Sun article about Ronaldo should go on strike but it made me laugh nonetheless. So please do not think I am a gullible as I may seem. Also, remember that I am from Canada and over here we are brought up to trust our media more, when it comes to sports, not politics. In Britain, Spain etc the media is an absolute disgrace and if it weren’t for free speech and democracy, governments should step in and close many of them down. And although I do have a reputation for attacking back at people who I see as flaming or sniping at me, I did not feel that with you. You were challenging my views on a player and I could see that. I appreciate and like a good debate but in this case I have to say that you are wrong in thinking that I have it out for Ronny. Go back and read earlier threads I wrote this week where despite everything he has done, I supported his right to move on and was very grateful for his five year contribution. What has upset me is not that he wants to leave but how he is going about it and how he is disrespecting Fergie in the process. It’s wrong and it’s disgraceful and I for one have cooled on him. It’s a shame that he is so self centered and inconsiderate of those who greatly assisted in his meteoric rise to stardom. How quickly we forget the times when he was kicking a can on his mother’s patio in Medeira. Then again, humility has never been one of his strong points has it? 🙂

  17. [wakey]
    How do I put this in plainer terms? Ok let me try again: You have a problem with a commenter you shoot me an email by clicking contact in the top menu.

    Writing about your grievances here is a waste of your energy and you will drag others needlessly into this debate. Email is the better way of communication if you really want clarification.

  18. @Grognard – But he hasn’t disrespected Fergie, even if his Brazilian interview is true (which now seems very debatable) all he has basically said thats differs from what hes every said about playing for Real is the if he is to play for Real its upto Real to meet United valuation. People seem to be taking this as only meaning he is demanding a transfer but considering how annoyed he seems to get when given the question of “are you joining real” it seems to me that its just as likely that he is telling Real to stop playing silly buggers with the media circus they are conducting and either put in a bid or shut up.

    Infact based on the fact that Ronnie has said over and over again that he would like to stay BUT the futures not really in his hands and the various timescales on decisions would suggest to me that his Agents been told Real will be putting in an offer thus his future would be decided one way or the other in that time period BUT real as always are choosing to mess everyone around by refusing to make formal complaints and just keep feeding the media circus to get a cut price (Which they have done with 99% of the players they have signed in the last decade)

  19. wakey; It’s not a problem really but it’s plain to see we both have different definitions of respect. I think his actions have been very disrespectful to Fergie and to his team, considering he has signed a 4 year contract just 8 months ago. And if the report is to believed that he snubbed Fergie at the Portuguese training facility, then what more can I say. I admit though that the snubbing article could be one of hundreds of false ones. If he respects Fergie he should come out and state his intentions instead of holding his team hostage until after the EUROS.

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