Wednesday, 8 May 2013

ALEX FERGUSON: Why his departure is bound to be a mixed blessing


Be it Moyes or Mourinho, Ferguson must not look back

Although I’m glad Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement this morning, those of us who’ve been United fanatics since the mid 1950s know only too well what happens when a giant departs the Club. And Ferguson was and remains a managerial giant.
In truth, I wish he’d gone two seasons ago, and MUFC had appointed Mourinho to the job then. I suspect he is the only man big, talented and swashbuckling enough to take over at Old Trafford. You see, it isn’t just the predecessor whose shadow casts too long a penumbra for many: it’s also the unique nature of Manchester United.
The 1958 Munich disaster ensured a legend where previously there had only been precocious talent and another very canny Scot by the name of Matt Busby. United is, on almost any dimension, the biggest soccer brand in the world; but above even that, it has the Glory-Glory thing nobody can match…and upon which no manager can fail to deliver. The win in extra-time at the 1968 European Cup final was pure Roy of the Rovers risen from the ashes, as indeed was the 1998 version when two goals in the last minute brought the Club the elusive treble it had sought since 1956.
But the relationship between the key Munich survivors – Bill Foulkes, Bobby Charlton and Matt Busby – delayed the club’s real revival. Sir Matt remained the tall ghost in the background, and it was too much for the likes of Wilf McGuinness and Frank O’Farrell. I read this lunchtime that Sir Alex will stay on as a director and ambassador once he retires: I’m bound to observe that this could be a very bad idea, but I don’t think any one player at the Club now would be close enough to Ferguson so as to represent an alternative power base. We must all pray that the most successful manager in British football history can learn some humility from here on….and give the new bloke his unwavering loyalty.
I’ve spoken to a couple of Mancunian heavy-hitters this morning, and it does sound like the Everton manager David Moyes has already been offered the job. I admire Moyes massively for a number of important reasons: he is a good and decent man, a brilliant shoestring manager, a loyal team-player (only Wenger and Ferguson have stayed longer at a UK club) and a chap who loves attacking football. He is also a Scottish Catholic – the importance of which in the United tradition should not be dismissed.
But is David Moyes big enough for the move to Old Trafford? I’m not convinced. Nor am I able to deal with the continuing presence of the Glazer Gargoyles, a bunch of carpetbaggers who bought United with funny-money, and saddled the Reds with a debt still standing at £367m. The servicing of this debt in 2013 wiped out a 23% increase in underlying profit in the three months to March: the net cost of servicing the debt came to more than £18.3m…a serious millstone, and something that will turn into a deadly landslide should interest rates rise, and/or the Glazer family find itself swamped by myriad American debts.
Somewhere in the background to all this is rabid United fan Jim O’Neill….late of Goldman Sachs and still without a full-time job: which, let’s face it, he doesn’t need. As a big wheel in the Red Knights, Jim remains implacably anti-Glazer. I would love to know what he makes of all this. In the meantime – although José Mourinho is I understand in advanced negotiations for a return to Chelsea, it ain’t over til the Fat Lady sings.
United have promised an announcement about Sir Alex Ferguson’s replacement by the weekend. 

No comments:

Post a Comment