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Friday, November 04, 2011

A tribute to 'alex' by Simon Moult

Firstly of course the current edition of Red News - RN184 - is a special SAF-25 years mag which you can order/subscribe to at

Sir Alex Ferguson: The Official Manchester United Celebration of 25 Years at Old Trafford

During Alex Ferguson’s 25 years at Manchester United the club has gone so far. We’ve seen a few very important nay, defining, one-nil victories, lost a cup in 90 minutes, gained a cup in 92 minutes or thereabouts, the badge lost the football club and the team lost a grey kit. We’ve won silverware with kids and we’ve seen the men they became go on to dominate. We’ve lost guvnor’s, marvels, a babyface and a couple of red head’s along the way, we gained the greatest Dane and watched the greatest centre forward, that the worrrrrld has ever seen. That’s according the Eric the King song anyway and who dares argue when the Stretford End decides that?
We’ve seen a lot in those twenty five years but through it all, the ups, the downs (not Tommy Doc size downs but, yknow, the loss of a league championship or two and a few in Europe), the treble’s and the all important signatures on all important contracts. We’ve even created a few of the world’s greatest players, or at least been there to watch them become worthy of that tag. One man took us from nowhere to everywhere.
One man has been there through it all. While Knighton took his ball and went home and he was allowed to, and when Eric took his and wasn’t... one man was at the heart of all of it. Sir Alex Ferguson. The football club has grown around him, because of him, we’ve seen all the success because of the vision he had. When an outside pundit doubts the quality of the young team Manchester United fields, one man takes the flack because he knows what that team can produce. Sir Alex Ferguson.
Yes there are changes which still arguably divide our supporters to this day but in terms of running the football club, the company, the brand, the team, the players and the collective ego, the world is in absolutely no doubt who runs Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson.
When we say we have a lot to thank him for, we mean it, but we thank him every time we turn up to support our team. Every time we cheer, every time we yell, every time I try and defy the laws of ability by trying to jump myself and my wheelchair over the netting in front of me at Old Trafford because we’ve just scored, we are saying thank you.
Thank you for turning a cheeky phone call about buying Denis Irwin, into the moment Eric Cantona joined. Thank you for throwing on those boys at the Nou Camp in 1999. Thank you for sending the Manchester Evening News in to a pull out producing frenzy by signing Andy ‘Call me Andrew’ Cole for 7m from Newcastle and allowing Keith Gillespie to go in the other direction and take on Alan Shearer in a stand off. Thank you for signing Andrei Kanchelskis and giving my Dad a minor stroke when I told him I wanted that name on the back of my shirt (75p a letter, plus badges, and the number 14... he still hasn’t forgiven me).
Thank you for turning Paul Scholes into a legend, and David May into a superstar.
Thank you for the most electrifying highs, lows lower than a snakes belly, and thanks a million for the retirement rethink.
I remember the story about the American president (Harry S Truman if you wanted to know) who had the quotation on his desk in the White House, “the buck stops here”. It was his show of belief that every decision lay with him and with it , the responsibility for the direction of the entire country. Sir Alex Ferguson runs Manchester United the same way, always has and always will until he decides otherwise.
I’ve met the manager a few times, at social things and Manchester United functions and he carries that authority with him always. The first time I was near him was when he signed my autograph book at Wembley.
He signed it “alex”... nothing more needed to be said. The buck stops there.

Simon A Moult 2011 Written exclusively for Red News. Follow Simon @Moultyx

Wednesday, November 02, 2011



- By Will Tidey, author of Life with Sir Alex: A Fan's Story of Ferguson's 25 Years at Manchester United by Will Tidey

Will will be signing copies of his book at 12pm at Deansgate Waterstones on Saturday.

As we approach Sir Alex Ferguson’s 25th anniversary at United, it seems fitting to re-visit a debate that’s been played out thousands of times during his reign. If you had to pick a Ferguson-era XI, who’d be in it, and why?

To qualify my selection, I’m going for the team I think would perform best over the course of the season, domestically and in Europe - and I’m going for the 4-4-2 formation that has graced the best part of Ferguson’s quarter of a century at Old Trafford.

To those who argue Edwin van der Sar should get the nod, I spread out my arms like a giant bear and roar in defiance, because United have never had a better goalkeeper than the Great Dane. Schmeichel
reinvented the artform during his time at Old Trafford and, aside from his natural flair for stopping the opposition scoring, was arguably the best proponent of the attack-launching overarm throw the game has ever seen.

Neville’s remarkable focus and commitment saw him achieve 10 times what his God-given talent gave license to. As a defender his concentration was immense. In attack he knew his limits, but as a foil
to David Beckham he gave his starry-eyed best friend the ideal platform for world domination.

Sheffield Wednesday at home, April 1993. With two late headed blows Bruce crashed open the door to two decades of success, and typified the never-say-die resolve he’d leant United since his arrival from Norwich City in 1987. What he lacked in flair, Bruce more than made up for in blood-and-guts commitment. When I close my eyes he’s wearing a bandage around his head.

United’s 2008 central pairing of Vidic and Rio Ferdinand were arguably the most effective of the Ferguson era, but it’s the Serbian assassin I’d want more in a team chasing trophies. A fearless competitor who never knows when he’s beaten, Vidic is the Jaap Stam for a new generation.

How much would Denis Irwin would be worth in the current market? Here was a quick, two-footed fullback, who could deliver accurate crosses from either flank and offer a genuine threat from set-pieces. The fact Ferguson got him for £625,000, and was repaid with 12 years’ of relentlessly immaculate service, makes Irwin one of the most astute signings in English football history.

Has any player ever dominated a Premier League season quite like Ronaldo did in United’s 2007-08 campaign? On an average day he was devastating; at his best he was as close to unplayable as the most famous United number seven of them all. Those who cried for the departure of Beckham didn’t cry for long.

United’s snarling, barnstorming midfield warrior, Roy Keane upped the ante when he arrived in 1993. By his standards of commitment so everybody would be measured, and for over a decade he dragged United by the scruff of the neck to prolific success. Has there ever been a better midfield performance by a United player than the one he gave in Turin against Juventus in 1999?

It’s a midfield prone to suspensions, but a few rash tackles here and there would be well worth the risk for this pairing – arguably the best of the Ferguson era. Scholes’ vision, creativity and goalscoring threat made him one of the best players of his generation and earned accolades all over the world. Xavi called him “the best midfielder of the last 20 years”, and you only need to watch back his 2003 hat-trick against Newcastle to see why.

Was there ever a more electrifying sight during Ferguson’s reign than that of Giggs at full flight, slaloming past defenders with the ball glued to his instep? The wing wizard has long since evolved into a wily central midfielder, but 20 years on Giggs remains a central figure in United’s quest for a 20th league title. He’s Ryan Giggs, he’ll do what he wants.

The influence of Cantona lives on. English football had never seen his like before, and hasn’t seen another like him since. The Frenchman instilled a swaggering belief to a United team who didn’t know how to get over the finish line. The stuttering gave way to a strutting confidence, and United’s next generation were born in his image. “I am not a man, I am Cantona,” he famously said. No you're not Eric, you're The King.

The Ruud van Nistelrooy argument is a strong one, but as time passes it’s becoming more and more unpalatable to consider a Ferguson XI shorn of an all-round attacking talent who goes by the name of Wayne Rooney. Ruud was a the master goal poacher – a Denis Law for the age, but Rooney gives my team goals and a whole lot more besides. Step forward the White Pele.

SUBS: Edwin Van der Sar, Jaap Stam, Patrice Evra, David Beckham, Bryan Robson, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Mark Hughes


- By Will Tidey, author of Life with Sir Alex: A Fan's Story of Ferguson's 25 Years at Manchester United by Will Tidey

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Dave Blatt's tribute to Sir Alex Ferguson

In the days before the PLC, one of the pleasures of attending the AGM was having a “one-to-one” with the manager once the press had departed. Holding court in front of an admiring throng, we would engage in a two way exchange that made us believe we were an integral part of the decision making process, whilst secrets were revealed that massaged our egos no end. For me this started with the Atkinson era and at AGMs and Euro aways us regulars built up quite a rapport. To be fair to Big Ron, before most Euro aways he would stroll over to wherever the United fans were being caged and exchange a few pleasantries with us.

At the 1986 United AGM I had my close encounter of the first kind with (pre Sir) Alex Ferguson. The word was out that he didn’t like long hair, so yours truly stood behind a pillar when I posed my first question, referring to my long hair and raising a laugh in the process. I remember his reply included the observation that there seemed to be more fans at this United AGM than Aberdeen fans at most home games. At the end of proceedings I followed my usual ritual of licking and groveling by asking each and every board member, including Bobby Charlton, if they would like to join fellow Reds, Michael Shenton, Graham Wyche and myself for lunch.

Wisely they all claimed to have made prior arrangements, except the new boy, Alex Ferguson.

“Hold on lads. I’ll join you in a minute.”

Trousers turning a collective brown, we followed the great man through the bowels of Old Trafford to one of the staff restaurants where we all ordered spaghetti. Once he opened up in our company we waxed lyrically for what seemed like hours. During the meal someone came over to our table to remind Alex that a Mr and Mrs Bosnich had flown in all the way from Australia and were waiting in his office, together with their son, Mark. Alex said he would be along in a few minutes, yet we continued to converse for well over an hour, discussing up and coming young players, especially Ryan Wilson, how the three of us had become United fans, and what we hoped for the future.

In the end it was I, Davidius, that had to remind Alex of the Australian family in his office. And thus he shook each one of us by the hand and left. The three of us sat back in awe, rewinding the last two hours. Then reality struck as the waiter came over and we paid for Alex’s meal.

The man’s reputation secured from day one.

Taken from "Manchester United Ruined My Wife" by David Blatt. David's new book, "The Red Eye - a United Fan's Distorted View Of The World" will be out later this year