Does Alex Ferguson Know What He’s Doing?

Ollie Irish

12th, August 2010


By Alex Netherton

Does Alex Ferguson know what he’s doing? It’s the question a lot of Manchester United fans ask themselves, and most seasons end with the answer, “I won the league, youse are all fucking idiots.”

For me, every year is the same. Until about October, interest is muted as I try to finally kick football out of my life. No more of Sam Matterface inanely joshing with Harry Redknapp. A bit less of the inevitable misery in my life. Bliss. When Sky Sports News goes 3D next year, what kind of life would that be for me? What kind of life, when Phil Thompson’s Red nose smashes up half my living room?

But then we play the team I hate more than myself, Liverpool, and the blood starts boiling and the hate comes back stronger than before. Winning, I get chucked out of the King’s Cross O’Neills for being incisively friendly to any opposing fans in the pub. Losing, I wake up in a morose booze haze in Cockfosters tube at four in the afternoon. As Silvio Dante never tired of saying, “Just when you think you’re out, they pull you back in.” And he’s a man who knows about passionate rage.

I’ve no idea what’s going to happen to Manchester United this season. Infuriatingly, Fergie’s put just enough hope in my heart to mean that my life is cursed for another year. Worse are the many reasons of bleak to be downcast from the first match onwards.

Fergie is jazz riffing on the links between fact and the bank balance. He brazenly claims that there’s ‘no value’ in the market. It’s a markedly ridiculous statement. Last season, he could just about get away with it. Everyone knew he received £80 million from selling Ronaldo, and that meant prices would have, more than usual, the added United Tax. Kaka had gone for £60 million, and Benzema half that. Ibrahimovic cost about £60 million – a situation more absurd than James Corden not being summarily executed this summer. But this year it really doesn’t ring true. He can’t argue about the definitions of value anymore. Ozil is available for a reasonable price, and plays in the one position United undeniably need to strengthen. Of course, he might not fancy United, he might (and I would empathise) despise England and have no desire to even consider moving to this rancid pig of an island. However, with the 25-man squads and the top heavy spread of quality players in England and Spain respectively, there are players to be bought, if one had the money United used to. The subtext of this? Manchester United are broke. The surtext of this? Manchester United are fucked.

Masochistically, I’ve still got the hope. Rooney, a nicotine hero, is not going to let us down for the majority of the season. Valencia had an excellent debut. Mad Paddy is possibly finer than Dennis Irwin – Cantona’s fondest receptacle. Moreover, there are three things to remember this season. One: Chelsea are more or less the same strength they were last season. Two: United lost the league by the smallest of margins. The squad was strong enough to beat most sides, however limited it was against the big teams, and sometimes that’s enough to win a league. Three: United were clearly not as potent as Chelsea – the best team won the league – and they scored far less often. However, Javier Hernandez looks assured in front of goal to a degree that excites fans – a rare quality. This might not be enough, but it does mean that I can’t kill the hope, as much as I might want to.

The other Ferguson signing could go either way. Chris Smalling seems a disaster in waiting, an ill judged gamble. Like Larry David saying The Bad Word in a game of poker, Ferguson is assuming far too much about a situation. Smalling has played just twenty games, and that’s not the type of player we’d buy four years ago. Even if we get lucky with him, this kind of punt is a clear sign of our decline.

Ferguson believes or has to hope, depending on how deep his pockets really are, that charisma champion Paul Scholes, Scouse folk hero Gary Neville and cyborg Ryan Giggs can keep going for another year. If they do, he might get away with it and win the league, and he might retire. More likely, he’ll try to build yet another great team and the anxiety restarts. If they don’t, he’ll keep going, driving himself into the ground until there’s just one more league trophy. Each year that he misses out from now, it gets harder. So does he actually know what he’s doing?

Posted in Featured, Man Utd

Share this article: Email


  1. PhilandoTorres says:

    For the first time in years, I’ve got a long-term baseless fantasy. It goes something like this;

    Chelsea win the league this season, with Liverpool in 4th. The season after that, Man City probably win it with Liverpool in 3rd. The season after that, Liverpool win the league and in doing so get to 19, at fucking last.

    We can but dream.

  2. Bob says:

    yes, he has done now for a long time mate. I have a good feeling about the kids, he’s been banging on about them for a few years now. Rafael and fabio could be awesome behind nani and valencia, plenty of potency there.

    On ozil, to be fair ive only seen him play a good wc but does that mean he’s genuine quality. Fergie may think he knows gibson, cleverly etc more and maybe there will be value in giving them another year. B y then there will be yet more names we are linked with… the beat goes on as it were.

  3. Jules says:

    In SAF we trust.

  4. Jaginho says:

    Good blog, mate. I’m a Liverpool fan and nothing pleases me more than watching Man U slide slowly and inexorably into the same abyss that we’ve been spiralling around since 2007. What makes it even better is that we have a chance of getting some kind of takeover this year, whereas Man U are, well, fucked. :-) The transfers Fergie’s been making this year are absolute gambles. For the most part, he’s paid well over the odds, as well. £7.5m for an unproven street striker, £10m for Chris Smalling – exactly who was involved in the bidding war for these players? Nobody. It’s like a panic buy on Football Manager on the last day of the transfer window: “I’ve got £10m to spend here… I need to buy *someone*”, then you offer the full £10m for a player worth £2m, just so there’s no time wasted in haggling; mind-boggling. It’s not as if he’s under pressure to spend the money, either (or is he? Is the financial crisis at United about to get a lot worse?). Either way; it makes me a little bit happier to see someone else suffering for a change. :-D

  5. Alex says:

    what does incisively friendly mean?

  6. Alex says:


    It means abusive.

  7. Dan says:

    What a punishing lack of insight in this article. On top of that, to the tool commenting above, I’d hardly call Hernandez an unproven street striker. What a load of rubbish – this article, that comment and, after a slow decline, this entire website.

  8. Alex says:


    The street striker is the striker United bought yesterday. Keep up!

  9. Ollie says:

    @ Dan – Yeah, you’ve made yourself look like a bit of a kneejerky, humourless twat there. Well done. Now go away.

  10. Fredmeister says:

    Believe in Fergie guys, he’s taken a few punts but then he always has. He’s depending on his kids coming good which has served him well so far. Funny how when an article like this comes up against any other team you have a load of 606 vitriol from pinheaded scoucers threatening the author, but this one gets some thoughtful response and one vitriolic scoucer freaking out coz villa and shitteh are better than them now. I’m quietly confident well win 1 or 2 trophies this season, and I don’t mean the milk cup. I’m bored of that one.

  11. Fergie is creating a team full of potential in anticipation of leaving the club in the next few years. I believe Fergie will retire if United regain the title this year.

    Personally, I’m slightly sceptical over Chris Smalling, However Hernandez has proved he can perform at the highest level already following his outings in South Africa. He may not be the finished article but he adds a different dimension to the side. I think he’s perfect with Berbatov as Dimi’s skill and Hernandez’s pace will allow him to play in behind defenders (contrast to Rooney who likes to play from deep)

    It would be outlandish to suggest Fergie doesn’t know what he’s doing. Obertan, Macheda, Cleverley & the Da silva’s are particularly exciting prospects. Fergie has built several teams over his time at the club. Whilst United may not necessarily reclaim the title from Chelsea this year, Fergie is building a team capable of continuing his legacy. With Chelsea’s ageing squad and pretty piss poor (IMO) youth policy of signing mediocre foreigners, SAF has assured a bright future for the club in footballing terms. The Financial side of things I must admit, does not look so Orange.

  12. mizman says:

    does fergie know what he is doing. leave now

  13. onixkun says:

    I thought you were a Spurs fan? O_o

  14. alex says:


    It was posted by Ollie but I wrote it. My name’s at the top.

  15. Dan says:

    @Alex: I stand corrected, fair enough. Bizzare signing.

    @Ollie: Nice to see your trademark rudeness to people who dislike anything you host on your website directed at me. Is there any real need to speak to people like that? I used to like this website but the amount of rubbish you post these days (and I’m not just referring to this article) and the tone of some of what you write is disgusting. Publish something and provide a space for comments means you’re open to any kind of response. Just because I don’t happen to find one thing funny doesn’t make me a ‘humourless twat’. I won’t be returning to the site so there is no point in sharing some more of your vintage wit in response but I somehow have a feeling you will anyway. Pathetic.

  16. Ollie says:

    @ Dan – Sorry if you feel that way. But you came on here, accused the article (and the whole site indeed) of being ‘rubbish’ and with no argument of your own to say why you thought it was rubbish. I don’t mind criticism at all (trust me), but when it’s baseless, it drives me crazy. Cheers, Ollie.

  17. Jchubeta says:


    Chelsea’s youth policy is piss poor eh? Smalling or Bruma; i know who I would rather have in my team for the future. Bruma, younger, technically better, is a Dutch International.

    Besides, the Blue’s “piss poor youth policy” has players like Kakuta (watch the Euro U-21), Matic ( Serbian International), Sturridge, Van Haudolt, Hutchinson, Di Santo, Borini coming through. I need no further introduction of Kakuta who looks like a cracking player with excellent close control and dribbling skills.

    Under Ancelotti, Chelsea has reduced the average age of the team by releasing of selling the over 30s, Carvalho, Deco, Belletti, Ballack.
    Ramires who is 23, and in Kaka’s opinion the best young midfielder in Brazil is to be signed in the next couple of days, along with a bid for Neymar, the 18 year old prodigy.

    Please worry about old Giggs, VDS, Scholes and Neville or injury prone Hargreaves and Rio Ferdinand.

    The only way for Chelsea is up, as the club has reduced its spending over the past 3-4 years and has worked the transfer market smartly. In Cech-Alex-Ivanovic- Zhirkov- Essien-Mikel-Ramires-Kalou-Sturridge, we have the base of first teamers that should see us covered for the next 3-5 years. Add to them a core of youngsters and buys from the transfer market, and we should always remain competitive and in contention for silverware. We may not win every trophy every year, but neither will United, and no club does either.

    So pls be choose your words carefully before you sprout them. Besides we won the Youth cup last year. Some piss poor youth policy eh?

Leave a Reply