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Friday, May 10, 2013 

The real Fergie.


The very best things that Ferguson brought to the football world were borne out of his undoubted will to win, but they were completely and utterly at odds with ours and our desires as Arsenal fans. For all his talent as a manager he was rude, boorish, ignorant and incredibly, incredibly annoying. He was a hypocrite, what was good for his team was means for vociferous, spittle-flecked complaint when enjoyed, however rarely, by others.

People might laugh at ‘Fergie time’ now but think back to when a referee stuck 5 or 6 minutes of injury time on to a game in which we were holding a lead, or in a game in which we needed them to drop points only for a late goal to scupper things. Not so funny. He had a team who would berate and intimidate referees, very much in his image, yet when anyone had the temerity to question him, regardless of the legitimacy of it, he’d throw his toys out of the pram.

He danced on our pitch, he fought with our manager, he was so irritating one of our players chucked a slice of pizza in his face, and while I completely and utterly respect what he did, I didn’t like him then and I don’t like him now. I’m also sure that’s pretty much exactly how he wanted it. I realise there’s a vast difference between someone’s public image and the private reality. Lots of the tributes posted in the last 24 hours have spoken about the side of him that people didn’t see, the decent, charitable one, but having never been party to that I can only go from what he showed us.

Keith Jackson:

Because as much as I respect Fergie for everything he has done in football there is something about his character which is pretty damn difficult to like.
Often he comes across as a rather boorish bully. At times he can appear downright obnoxious.

It’s almost as if all of those who have dared to step across the threshold at Old Trafford over the last 26 years have done so in varying degrees of terror.

Unless, of course, they made it all the way into the sanctuary of Ferguson’s inner sanctum.

Those who did – be they coaches or hacks – were almost like made men. The Manchester Mob. Untouchable.

These people gush about Ferguson in truly glowing terms. The likes of Walter Smith, Alex Smith, Jim McLean and Craig Brown would not hear or utter a bad word about the man they affectionately call the Godfather.

There are others, around the greyest edges of the Press pack, who dote on him with even more reverence. Some of them go weak at the knees at the mention of his name. Their adoration is somewhat sickly. It’s tantamount to man love.

I don’t know Ferguson well enough to understand why he is capable of commanding such levels of control. In fact, I can’t claim to know the man at all.

He’s a genius. I’ll give him that much. His achievements in management are unlikely to be matched, never mind surpassed.

But that doesn’t necessarily make him a nice person.

Freddy Gray:

There’s a darker side to Fergie’s legacy, too. Sir Alex helped cultivate the with-us-or-against-us, win-at-all-costs mentality that has taken over English football – and removed whatever tiny vestiges of sporting decency might have been left in the national game. Fergie’s Manchester United taught the rest of English football how to bully the ref. The sight of pig-thick footballers surrounding match officials, screaming and gesticulating psychotically, their faces twisted in mindless indignation, is now an integral part of the Premier League circus, and every team does it. But Man U mastered the act before anyone else.  


And let’s not forget his outrageous arrogance towards the BBC, which had the temerity to produce a documentary about Manchester United’s business dealings with his son Jason. Ferguson refused to talk to the Beeb for eight years – even though the Beeb pay huge amounts of money for the broadcasting rights of Premier League highlights. He only gave up his protest after football’s authorities threatened to fine Man U every time their manager refused to be interviewed. It’s hard to imagine that, with any lesser manager, the league would have taken so long to act.

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