November 5th, 2009
02:41 PM ET

Ferguson’s passion still burns brightly

Any thoughts we may have had that Manchester United’s Alex Ferguson might just be a little more conciliatory after a recent brush with English football’s hierarchy over criticism of referees have very quickly proved to be misguided.

Ferguson still makes sure not to pull any punches when dealing with the football authorities.
Ferguson still makes sure not to pull any punches when dealing with the football authorities.

Just minutes after his team’s thrilling Champions League draw with Russia’s CSKA Moscow on Tuesday, the fiery Scot was at it again only this time I have to say he was well justified in his viewpoint.

Fergie, lamenting the fact his men were denied a blatant penalty for a foul on midfielder Darren Fletcher, told post- match reporters that he simply couldn’t believe the decision, describing it as “one of the worst I’ve seen in my lifetime”.

Now how’s that for damping things down!

But for me this latest spat only goes to prove the veteran coach’s appetite for the game is as fervent as ever.

Sir Bobby's advice

The footballing community recently witnessed an emotional farewell to another legendary manager, Sir Bobby Robson.

They came from far and wide to pay tribute to a man who's left an indelible mark on the game he loved. Among those gathered was another of the game's true giants and another "Sir" to boot. That man Ferguson!

There was nothing especially noteworthy about the fact the Scot was at that memorial service in the north- east of England in late September. After all, the great and the good of the football world were all pretty much in attendance. It was more really the little snippet of information Fergie let slip while there that intrigued me.

Remember when he was originally due to retire back in 2001 two seasons after delivering United's first European cup title since 1968? Contrary to popular belief that it may have been his wife Cathy who talked him out of it, the United chief revealed it was in fact Sir Bobby who had a major bearing on his decision. The former England head coach made it quite clear he felt Ferguson was leaving the game far too early.

Once that opinion had been registered, the Scot needed no further reflections. And, as they say, the rest is history. Eight seasons on and one of the sport's most successful managers is still going strong. And how!

Since 1986 he has ruled the roost at Old Trafford, and it's quite clear the passion still burns as brightly as ever. Just witness those frantic last-gasp celebrations when a jubilant Fergie punched the air with glee as United scored the game-winner against a shell-shocked Manchester City recently, scenes hardly in keeping with someone who's not a million miles away from his 70th birthday!

I recall going into the match Sir Alex somewhat demeaningly said that his club's "true" derby was against Liverpool. That's the clash most fans truly relish he added. While there's doubtless plenty of truth to that, judging by the way he danced a jig of joy on the pitch, the fiery Scotsman still keeps plenty in reserve for victories over Mark Hughes' money- laden City.

I personally thought Ferguson would have been strongly tempted to call it quits had his team beaten Barcelona in last season's European Cup final in Italy's magnificent capital city Rome. Indeed, I'm sure he's privately well aware that had his men scored in those opening ten minutes which they dominated, they would surely have gone on to victory against the Catalans.

As it turned out, Barca re-grouped and went on to take control before winning fairly comfortably and that's just one reason I feel the United manager will be around for some time to come. I've got a sneaking feeling, Sir Bobby would have it no other way!

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soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. jc

    patrick,it was a stonewall penalty

    November 6, 2009 at 4:17 pm | Reply
  2. Mujtaba Ahmed

    I am an ardent fan of Manchester United since 1974 having hardly missed a game since then. I have always liked them in Red outfit. They play the game magnificiently with a will to win. However when they play a disjointed game it hurts to see them losing. Their overall performance is excellent. I wish them success. Their Manager Sir Alex Ferguson is one of the best managers in the game. However he has his ups and downs which is quite natural for a man of his calibre.

    November 7, 2009 at 12:22 pm | Reply

    I think that sir Alex ferguson still remains the best coach in the history of English premier League and concerning united march with chealsea today at the stamford bridge. The red army will give bridge a shock

    November 8, 2009 at 9:02 am | Reply
  4. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    Young in heart and mind Sir Alex Ferguson is an inspiration to many upcoming football managers in different parts of the footballing world. Long serving Monsieur Arsene Wenger is another gentleman who could be termed as a legend at the Gunners. Here in India we have former India international Senhor Armando Colaco at Goa's most decorated football outfit Dempo Sports Club. These long serving managers have the ability to keep together their core players for good many seasons. The guys are indeed fine "institution builders" whose names will be carved in the hearts and minds of football players and fans. May they go on and on.

    November 14, 2009 at 3:38 pm | Reply

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