THEATER OF DREAMS
By the Laal Chavel (Red Rice)
After The Mauling
Now that the KOP fans have calmed down after getting all carried away for the hiding they dished out, lets focus, they still third (hehe). Somehow most United fans took it quite well. Upto that game we played about 7 or 8 games more if you count the World Club Cup, League Cup & FA CUP. Not only that bit it was an early kick off on Saturday not giving us much rest from last Wednesdays Inter game. So those are the excuses if any, how long can you be at your best & maintain focus if fixtures are working against you. The immediate focus will now be to put daylight between us and the blues.
Sir Alex Ferguson has had his fare share of maulings at United, the 5-0 hiding at Man City in the late 80’s, the 5-0 drubbing at St James Park when the TOON army were led by Keegan in the mid 90’s and now the fools have had their day, that said United have always triumphed when it came to the crunch.
The Ferguson philosophy of football stamped over Old Trafford over the last 20 years is beyond what any other club has achieved in that time. Sir Alex was recently interviewed by British journalist Alastair Campbell talking about politics, retirement & the Quintuple…
INTERVIEW with the Sir Alex Ferguson
Alastair Campbell: On a scale of one to ten, how political do you think you are?
Alex Ferguson: Well, I guess I'd have to be a ten on football. With politics, I'm interested in it, I follow it, I read political history and I have strong political views. So I would say around seven and a half.
Alastair Campbell: Where do you think your politics come from?
SAF: My background and upbringing. I grew up in a very working-class area of Glasgow and I was always very conscious of the sense of community, people and families supporting each other. I grew up believing Labour was the party of the working man, and I still believe that. It's true I've earned a lot of money. But I've worked hard, pay my taxes and put a lot back in different ways. I think part of Tony Blair's success as a leader was showing success and Labour could go together.
Alastair Campbell: What do you think politics and sport can learn from each other?
SAF:I read a lot of history and in most history books there won't be a mention of sport, but there are always insights you can learn. Like that book you sent me last summer, the one about Abraham Lincoln . I couldn't get enough of it. And of course the big story was slavery and the civil war, but what was fascinating was how he held together all these big personalities, the ones who had tried to stop him becoming president, to make sure they stayed roughly on the same track. Now, he was president of the United States in a totally different era. I am a manager of a football team. But I can learn about the art of team-building and team management from all sorts of places.
Alastair Campbell: It's changed so much since you were a player, or since you started at United.
SAF The thing is, I have been here while all these changes have gone on and I've managed to adapt and help players adapt. I was here before agent power, before freedom of contract, before the really big money from TV kicked in. Part of my job is to make sure these lads keep their feet on the ground. I hammer it into them that the work ethic is what got them through the door here in the first place and they must never lose it.
Alastair Campbell: And does all the fame and the money change them for the worse?
SAF: Well, some footballers it might, but look at [Manchester United's] Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, model professionals who have also handled the celebrity status well. So then the younger ones look up to them, too. And the job of the manager is to get the best out of them, and always be looking to the future as well.
Alastair Campbell: Do you have a retirement date in mind yet?
SAF: Not for a while. I'm 67 now. My health's good. I still have the drive and the energy. I've been here more than 22 years, but I still get a buzz arriving at the training ground. I still get that tingle of excitement when the team bus draws up at an away ground before a big match. Or I see some of the young kids coming through, like the young Brazilian twins [Rafael and Fábio Da Silva, of United] . . .
Alastair Campbell: So what are we saying? Another year? Two?
SAF: That kind of area. We'll see.
Alastair Campbell: I reckon your last game should be at Wembley, the 2011 Champions League final. Then you do the UK football team for the 2012 Olympics.
SAF: We'll see. I certainly support the idea of an Olympic team in principle, provided there is no danger at all to the individual identities of the smaller countries.
Alastair Campbell: What do you think the LabourTory score is right now?
SAF: Well, the polls aren't great, are they? And a recession is the last thing you need when there's an election not that far off. So you'd have to say the Tories are a goal or two up. But I don't think it's over. I don't hear too many saying they really want the Tories back.
Alastair Campbell: What about Gordon?
SAF: I think he did a terrific job as chancellor. And I know people go on about him being a dour Scot and not having Tony's charisma and so on, but I think maybe the country needs a bit of that dour Scottishness.
Alastair Campbell: Best player you ever saw?
SAF: Pelé, Di Stéfano, Maradona, Cruyff.
Alastair Campbell: Greatest manager?
SAF Jock Stein.
Alastair Campbell: Who will replace you? And will you have a say?
SAF: United is a family club and I know they will want me to stay involved as an ambassador of some sort. If I'm asked my view I'll give it, but I won't be a back-seat driver.
Alastair Campbell: And who do you fancy?
SAF: I'm not gone yet.
Alastair Campbell: Reaction to [Liverpool manager] Rafa Benítez's rant?
SAF Weird. I really don't know what he was talking about. I'd be amazed if his staff or his players thought it was a good idea.
Alastair Campbell: Best (other) manager in the Premiership?
SAF: You'd have to say Arsène Wenger, David Moyes and Martin O'Neill.
Alastair Campbell: Your United dream team, out of the players you've managed?
SAF: My problem with United is I have had so many great players that I can't do one dream team.
Alastair Campbell: Do two, then.
SAF: Well, two goalies for sure - Schmeichel and Van der Sar. Both top 'keepers. Full backs, Denis Irwin, Gary Neville, Evra, and these Da Silva boys are something else. Centre backs, you'd have to say Stam, Bruce, Ferdinand and Pallister. For midfield . . . I ask myself who were the players you could not leave out. Bryan Robson, for sure. Roy Keane. Scholes. Giggs - never, ever leave him out if I was playing my best team. Ronaldo and Cantona are both “never leave out” players. You'd have Beckham knocking on the door. Out-and-out strikers, where do I start - Van Nistelrooy, Cole, Yorke, Solskjaer, Sheringham. As for Rooney, if I left him out, I'd have to do it by e-mail or I'd never hear the end of it. God, when you go through it like that, I have been blessed with terrific players.
Alastair Campbell: Greatest achievement?
SAF: The treble [Premiership, FA Cup and Champions League] in 1999, and in particular the comeback at Barcelona against Bayern.
Alastair Campbell: Best goal scored under you?
SAF: Giggs against Arsenal at Villa Park [in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final]. Out of this world.
Alastair Campbell: Biggest mistake?
SAF Letting go of Jaap Stam. No question.
Alastair Campbell: Biggest disappointment?
SAF: Not getting Gazza. He was a fabulous footballer and he would have done brilliantly here.
Alastair Campbell: Can you do the quintuple this year?
Alastair Campbell: No.
Alastair Campbell: Seriously?
SAF: The thing about cup football is you need to be the best, but you also need a lot of luck and I think it's asking too much for all the games to go your way. The one thing I will say is, this squad is the best I have ever had. Every game we play, I feel confident. At the moment, every attack fears our defence and every defence fears our midfield and attack. That gives you confidence, but it is too tough a call.