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Published: 21 May 2001

FERGIE
by Red Kelly

Manchester United will go on, after Fergie's departure, of that there is no doubt, but the way the hierarchy have treated Alex Ferguson is outrageous. And to hide behind the so called 'Busy syndrome' is reprehensible.

I grant you, the two situations are similar in that we had emerged from a period of re-building and reached the pinnacle with Sir Matt and the same can be said this time around, but I think the two situations are very different.

When Wilf took over from Sir Matt, the club was very emotionally charged after lifting the European Cup which was always going to re-kindle the memories and traumas of Munich. Sir Matt, Bill Foulkes and Bobby Charlton had all survived the crash. Nobby and Shay Brennan had been in the youth team at the time and the others had either come up through the youth ranks or been bought as part of the post-Munich rebuilding. The bonds were so strong with Sir Matt that several of the older players used to socialise with him on a regular basis. They were pals.

This made the manager's job virtually impossible. In actual fact Wilf did a pretty good job. We only failed to reach another European Cup Final because of some very dubious refereeing in the semi when I and thousands of others on the Stretford End saw, quite clearly, that the Lawman's shot had crossed the goal-line, but it wasn't given. Also, had Wilf been given the backing of the board to bring in his own players such as MacDonald and Todd then things would have been very different.

The situation with Fergie is not at all the same. Yes - he has the backing and support of the players but they do not socialise with, or seek to influence him in any way. There is a fantastic bond, but it is between manager and player, even if those who have developed via the youth set-up consider him to be a father figure.

It looks to me as though the board are conspiring to oust Fergie because they have already tapped someone up for the job and there's no room for sentiment. No chance for the Wizard to go out on the ultimate high next May in Glasgow. He may as well go now as far as they are concerned and make way for the new man or men.

That someone who has picked our club up and dragged it through the last decade and a half and taken us to such giddy heights and then be treated like a pile of shit makes me very very angry. The whole business has been so badly mishandled it has left a really sour taste in my mouth.

I suppose we can only look at this from our own personal point of view, but if I were to be in the privileged position of taking over as manager of Manchester United I would welcome Fergie's guidance with open arms just as he did with Sir Matt. He has the experience and the knowledge, but maybe he has too much knowledge.

It's just possible that the board may prefer a 'yes man' - someone less abrasive, someone who isn't going to cause trouble. The fact that the person who eventually takes over should be strong enough to counter the board if he sees fit is, to me, beyond doubt. Whether he would then fit in with the board is of course doubtful. And whether that man would be strong enough to run a club like Manchester United is extremely questionable.

It's funny but I just can't get the words: 'personal agendas' out of my mind. I don't know why - maybe it's just me.

Red Kelly

Copyright 2001 by the author & Red Eleven. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced without permission of the author


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