That Ferguson promoted Moyes, a man who could not run a corner shop called Everton to run a gigantic supermarket called Manchester United, is a dent on his so called legendary status.
FORMER Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson, is no doubt a good coach, but his above legendary status, a gospel preached by a section of the media, swallowed hook, line, and sinker by football lovers, far beyond his constituency Manchester United, must be scrutinized, especially in view of the fact that his parting gift to his club, David Moyes, has been a disaster.
A class of more discerning football aficionados (this reporter is a card carrying member) believes that Ferguson’s success is down to his ability to intimidate and bully officials, a trait he probably learnt from the strongman of Ibadan politics Lamidi Adedibu, the man Nigerian football fans nicknamed him after.
Adebibu won elections using Machiavellian means; he never won any election outside Oyo State. His political hegemony collapsed after his death. Ferguson too won many matches using the Italian tactics, his success outside England was limited, and the house he built is collapsing.
His supporters may quickly point at the European titles he won, but considering the amount of resources at his disposal, the quality of players he worked with and his backroom staff, others are of the view that he ought to have achieved more, especially, when one also considers that coaches like Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola recorded more success.
Like Ferguson, like Adedibu
Let facts speak. A former UEFA and EPL referee Dermot Gallagher recently revealed how Ferguson intimidated referees in decision making.
Gallagher claimed Ferguson once asked him to call off a game to benefit his side. Ferguson himself admitted to Manchester United TV that he made deliberate attempts to pressure officials throughout his career.
BBC also established that there is “Fergie time” in English Football. When Ferguson’s team is losing a match, referees prolong the match to ensure that United get the desired result. When the time was calculated, it averaged, 79 seconds per match after 90 minutes.
Roberto Martínez, then of Wigan, once said English football authorities are intimidated by Ferguson, and that he gets preferential treatment. Some football buffs often refer to the Football Association, as Ferguson Association.
Arsene Wenger agreed with Martinez, “We try to blame the referees and intimidate the media at every opportunity, but Ferguson has always been in a league of his own when it comes to that.”
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew called him the Godfather of the EPL, ‘I guess that’s why the referees do whatever the bloody hell he wants.’’
Referee Howard Webb revealed that “For the last 25 years, Sir Alex has miraculously achieved the combination of producing winning football and striking abject fear and terror into me and my officiating colleagues.”
How Ferguson compares with other coaches
Would Ferguson have been a success outside England? How does he compare with coaches who have achieved success over and over with different clubs in many countries and national teams.
The Football Coaches World Ranking for May 2013, the month Ferguson retired, had former Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heyneker leading the pack with 16285 points, Barcelona coach Tito Villanova 14985 points, Mourinho then of Real Madrid 14485 points, Diego Simone of Athletico Madrid 12596, Ferguson was a distance fifth with 11554 points.
Since statistics is like a mini-skirt, it gives you only the preview, hiding the real thing, let’s look at concrete achievements. How does one compare Ferguson with a Mourinho who has won league titles and FA Cup in four countries including three European titles, or Giovanni Trapattoni who has won titles with about five clubs in different countries including European titles, Heyneker has coached about 13 clubs between Spain and Germany winning many titles including European titles with Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Others who have also done it in many clubs include Arrigo Sacchi, Vincente del Bosque, Marcello Lippi, Ottar Hitzfeld, Gus Hiddink, Carlo Ancelloti, and Guardiola who in 2009 won six titles in a season, a feat yet to be equaled. Ferguson no doubt will never forget his humiliation twice by young Guardiola in Rome and his backyard Wembly. Would Ferguson have achieved a top four finish for 17 years working with the quality of players and resources at Wenger’s disposal? Most probably no.
Some will say EPL is tougher
Some football buffs would argue that Ferguson towered above his contemporaries because EPL is the toughest league in the world.
I beg to differ, the English league may be the most lucrative and more popular here, but the toughest, no.
The ease with which average players in Spain and Germany become outstanding players the moment they arrive England and how outstanding stars in the EPL fade when they arrive these countries is clear pointer to which league is stronger.
Carzola, Michu, Mata, Yaya Toure are examples of average players in Spain who are lords of EPL, except Cristiano Ronaldo who was an instant hit in Spain, most players, who were outstanding in EPL like Michael Owen, Alex Song, Thierry Henry, Alex Hleb, were squad players in Spain, even the Oluomo of EPL Cesc Farbregas does not command a regular shirt in Barcelona.
The way EPL players are overlooked for UEFA and FIFA players of the year awards, for world best eleven in the last five years and the way the best players in the world shunned the EPL this season during the transfer period is a clear pointer to where strength and power lies.
Now the chosen one
Ferguson’s decision to anoint Moyes as the chosen one could be likened to Adedibu’s omo wa ni eje kose policy, where candidates are selected and rigged into office based on sentiments.
Any keen follower of the EPL knows Ferguson has cult followers among coaches and he has not hidden the agenda to make one of them his successor.
As far back as 2009, Martínez had revealed that Steve Bruce, Sam Allardyce and Moyes are Ferguson’s close friends and that Moyes has been widely touted as a candidate for Ferguson’s job when he retires.
Rather than point fingers at Ferguson’s error of judgment in appointing Moyes as the reason for United’s poor performances, football buffs are making all manners of excuses that could only convince the gullible.
Argument that United lacks quality players is not true. Apart from Manchester City, and probably Chelsea, none of the clubs that sit above United have the quality of players they have. They have better players than Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton. They also have better players than some of the teams that have defeated them like Tottenham, West Brom, Everton, Stoke, and Newcastle. How can football fans believe a club that has players like de Gea, Rafael, Evra, Ferdinand, Vidic, Mata, Carrick, Nani, Young, Fletcher, Valencia, Kagawa, Fellaini, Rooney, Hernández, Welbeck, van Persie, Januzaj and old reliable Giggs and youngsters like Jones, Evans, Smalling and Cleverley is lacking in quality and depth.
The reason why United is not doing well is Moyes’ lack of tactical prowess and this was obvious to everybody except Ferguson. The same set of players that played mediocre football under Moyes at Everton are now playing fantastic football under Martinez. That Ferguson promoted Moyes, a man who could not run a corner shop called Everton to run a gigantic supermarket called Manchester United, is a dent on his so called legendary status. One of the qualities of a good leader is ability to appoint a good successor.
Some football buffs believe Ferguson appointed Moyes, knowing he will fail, then he would be recalled as it is being rumoured now. If this turns out to be true; it will be the final nail on Ferguson’s legacy.
Ferguson’s house, like that of Adedibu was built on sinking sand, and as the` strongman of Ibadan hegemony collapsed after his death, Ferguson United is already following the path of the man Nigerian football fans nicknamed him after.