Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughManchester’s Master Mind - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Manchester’s Master Mind - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Manchester’s Master Mind

Sir Alex Ferguson is surely the last of a dying breed of the ‘old school’ gaffer. From emotional one on ones with super star strikers to administering the hairdryer treatment on a national icon, no situation has ever left Fergie clutching at straws. In wake of this weekend’s F.A Cup crunch tie with Arsenal, Sir Alex has once again came out smelling of roses. With United’s worst run since 2001 only one defeat away, Ferguson knew at such a crucial stage in the season that defeat simply wasn’t an option. What better way to put his heavily criticised  United side back on track for a treble than by beating their closest title rival with a weakened starting line up and putting his old enemy Arsene Wenger to the sword. Throughout his managerial career Sir Alex has galvanised his team from the clutches of defeat to becoming champions. So what is it that makes Sir Alex such a contributing factor to England’s and arguably Europe’s most dominant force?

The answer is he is loved by some, hated by many, but respected by all. Teams in preparation for a fixture with United don’t just prepare for Rooney, Nani and Berbatov, they prepare for Sir Alex to. It’s hard to pick up a newspaper before a United game and not read about “Fergie’s mind games,” a formidable tactic Sir Alex uses to his advantage often at the expense of his opposite number. Kevin Keegan was a prime example of playing into Fergie’s hands when he broke down live on Sky Sports during the ‘95-‘96 season.  Ferguson had accused teams of “Going easy,” on Keegan’s Newcastle side, this led to the most famous rant in Premier League history.  “I would love it if we beat them! Love it,” still must echo in Keegan’s head when he thinks back to that year. Ferguson exposed how much pressure Keegan’s Newcastle were under after being ten points clear at Christmas. Ferguson made Keegan look unprofessional and in return Keegan made his team look nervous. This showed as even though United wrapped the league up with a 3-0 win at Middlesboro, Newcastle could only manage a draw at home to Spurs. Pressure is now a feature which Ferguson’s United thrive on, as Fergie himself dubbed it “Squeaky bum time.” He has built a reputation for his side to “kick on” in the second half of the season which has helped him secure an unrivalled 11 Premier League trophies.

However it’s not just mind games that make the Premier Leagues most successful manager. Sir Alex Ferguson is the head of one of Europe’s elite sides and can turn teenagers into superstars. David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo are but to name a few. In order to keep these players’ feet on the ground it takes extraordinary man management skills and to axe these players when their ego becomes bigger than the club’s takes courage; two qualities Sir Alex has in abundance. Sir Alex has never been afraid to show star players the exit whenever they forgot who the boss was. Jaap Stam, David Beckham and Lee Sharpe all found out sooner rather than later who was in charge. It’s hard to see how shipping out quality players can strengthen your squad but players who leave United to play elsewhere always find it hard to emulate what they achieved while playing for the red of Manchester. Cristiano Ronaldo has failed to land any trophies so far at Madrid despite being part of a new generation of Galacticos. Jaap Stam was sold in 2001 despite being regarded as the world’s best centre back. He played for Lazio, Milan and Ajax over a period of 9 years, in which time he never won as much as he did in his 5 years under Ferguson.

With the current crop of United players many find it hard to compare them to teams of old. However still on course for a treble, with what has to be said is a mediocre squad in United standards, is a testament to what Sir Alex does for the club. He takes players such as Darren Fletcher and turns them into big game players. He creates a team mentality to win every game and a belief that every game can be won. Ryan Giggs has spent his whole 19 year career under Ferguson and has become the most decorated player in Premier League history, a title he could only have earned at Ferguson’s United.

So the next time managers come out to criticse Ferguson’s “Bill of ilence,” or his “Fergie time referees,”they should think twice they could be falling into his oldest trick in the book. After all they knighted him for a reason.

Christopher Butler

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