I’m breaking the habit of a lifetime and writing two Fergie bashing articles in one day. Those of you who read this site regularly will know I am firmly on Ferguson’s side in most, if not all debates surrounding our knighted manager. I think the World of the fella, and in contrast to some United groups, look upon his impending retirement with huge dread, rather than the feeling it’s long overdue. However, I can’t bite my tongue today. Maybe his comments about our fans has irked me to the point where I can only see the bad in what he has to say for the time being. Or maybe he really is just being an arse.
“At a number of clubs there have been problems with friction between managers and owners,” Ferguson has said today, obviously pointing the finger at the mess going on at Liverpool between Benitez and Hicks/Gillett. Over the past few months there have been less than encouraging noises coming out of the Yanks which I imagine is unnerving for the scousers. They’ve been airing their dirty laundry in public, squabbling with each other via the press, and generally showing big cracks behind the scenes.
After losing to United at Anfield Hicks claimed that Liverpool weren’t mentally able to overcome United, with the players not believing they were good enough to beat us. This is certainly a slight on Benitez’s capabilities as a manager, with no gaffer wanting to be told they are not able to inspire a winning mentality in his team when playing against their biggest rivals.
Rafa had previously publicly slated the Americans’ transfer policy, patronising them when blasting, “They don’t understand what the transfer window means in Europe. They need to understand how difficult it is to sign players.” In response, Hicks spoke to the Liverpool Echo, saying “We told him to concentrate on the games coming up. I guess he didn’t like it.” In the past week, Hicks dug the knife in further saying, “We just wanted to see if the team was going to gel. Then he (Benitez) went to a press conference and kind of pouted and answered in the same way 20 times: ‘I’m focusing on my team.'”
So yes, Ferguson is right, we haven’t had to deal with a ridiculous public spat, but then is that any reason to pat the Glazer’s on the back? ‘Well done for not acting like cocks like your countryman Hicks! Now we like you because you haven’t behaved in an unacceptable manner in front of the media’. Is Ferguson serious? We should be grateful that our Americans aren’t showing us up in the press, even though they’ve plunged us hundreds of millions in debt?
“You can see how smoothly the United ship is running as far as that is concerned,” said Ferguson, “despite early hostility over the Glazer family’s ownership. Those protests were unfair because they weren’t given a chance but the Glazers kept their cool and our owners have been nothing but supportive.”
Ferguson is not a stupid man. Ferguson knows the reasons why there were such angry protests towards the Glazer takeover. Being concerned over how “supportive” the Glazers were going to be did not come high up on the list. Losing the soul of the club and fears for ticket rises were the greater concerns, and they haven’t been shown as unfounded fears either.
“Good teamwork starts at the top,” continued the Scot, “and I am happy to say, that is what we have at Old Trafford.” So this teamwork Ferguson is talking about no longer includes the fans? The Glazer’s may not have been publicly slagging Ferguson off, but it was only yesterday Ferguson was having a pop at the fans. Are things running smoothly between the fans and the manager then? At the moment, I wouldn’t say so.
Colin Henrie, a spokesman for the Independent Manchester United Supporters Association, has responded angrily to Ferguson’s comments about the fans. “I think he could benefit from sitting in the ground,” said Hendrie, who believes Old Trafford stewards come down too hard on fans who stand at moments of excitement. “You can’t stand up to make a noise. If you try to stand up, you’ve got stewards who are ejecting you, they’re taking your season ticket away from you. It’s almost like a police state in a football ground now and if you do stand up, people will take your arm, put it behind the back of your neck and throw you out of the ground. Under those circumstances, what atmosphere does he (Ferguson) want? The only atmosphere we’ve got is one where we’re a little bit frightened of losing 1,000 pounds for the season ticket we’ve paid for.”
I like having a pop at the dippers as much as the next red, but Ferguson is picking the wrong time and the wrong way to do it today. So come on Fergie, sort it out, and make it easier for us all to love you again!