Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has described his 25 years in charge at the club as “a fairytale”.
Ferguson has won 37 trophies including since arriving at at Old Trafford, including 12 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, four League Cups, two Champions Leagues and a Cup Winners’ Cup.
Sunday, November 6th is the official Silver Jubilee anniversary, but Ferguson, who prefers to look forward rather than dwell on past achievements, is keen not to make a fuss about the milestone.
However, in a rare moment of reflection, he was happy to discuss some of the players that he has managed at United.
“When I look back I say to myself how fortunate I am to have had these players,” he stated.
“The list is incredible, going back to the very start with Bryan Robson, Norman Whiteside, Brian McClair, [Mark] Hughes, [Paul] Ince, [Roy] Keane, [Eric] Cantona. What a collection of players. They were fantastic players.”
No mention of Bebe, I see.
Anyway, if you’re wondering how much football has changed since 1986, here’s a few reminders. Steaua Bucharest were European champions that year, Igor Belanov was the European Footballer of the Year, Diego Maradona had just captained Argentina to their first World Cup triumph, and would soon do the same for his club, Napoli, while Everton would become champions of England that season.
Ferguson’s first game in charge was a 2-0 defeat to Oxford United, who only returned to the Football League last year after several seasons playing non-league football.
Of his current coaching contemporaries, Arsene Wenger had just embarked upon his managerial career with Nancy-Lorraine, Pep Guardiola was still four years off making his playing debut with Barcelona, while Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas had just celebrated his 9th birthday. The one manager who is at the same club now as he was then is Kenny Dalglish, although the Liverpool boss took a lengthy sabbatical away from the game to recharge his batteries and improve his golf handicap.
Dalglish, who has had more than his fair share of run-ins with his fellow Scot, lead the tributes to Ferguson.
“He has been fantastic for Manchester United and I think he has even surpassed the legend that was Sir Matt Busby with the achievements and success he has had,” he said.
“To be anywhere for 25 years is unbelievable and every success he has had is testament to him and the football club.
“When you remember where the football club was when he came in I think it is a fantastic achievement where he has taken them to now.”
Whatever one’s feelings about Ferguson, and it’s fair to say that he divides opinion, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see such managerial longevity again.
East Coast v West Coast
“Who is Luke Rogers?” asked Landon Donovan earlier this year after New York Red Bulls’ Rodgers revealed that sharing the pitch with the Galaxy forward was like having “two referees on the pitch.”
Now, in answer to the question, ‘Who is Luke Rogers?’ the answer might be: he’s the player who nearly decapitated a woman in a fit of pique.
Rodgers almost had the last laugh with Donovan after he put NY Red Bulls ahead in last night’s play-off game against Galaxy, but two second half goals from the West Coast side took them through to Sunday’s Conference final where they will face Real Salt Lake.
Tevez to sue?
Carlos Tevez is planning to sue Graeme Souness in the latest twist to the saga following the striker’s apparent refusal to play during Manchester City’s 2-1 defeat at Bayern munich in September.
The Sky Sports pundit verbally savaged the Argentinian after Roberto Mancini claimed the striker refused to come on as a substitute.
Souness said: “I’m in disbelief. How selfish can you get? Tevez is one bad apple.
“He can undo all the good work that has been done at City. He’s a disgrace to football.
“He epitomises what the man in the street thinks is wrong with modern football. It is totally unacceptable. He’s a football player and he is paid to play.”
Tevez has always denied that he refused to play and he, or more likely his overworked agent, is keen to take the matter to court.
Goal of the day
Andy Johnson demonstrated marvellous technique as he swivelled to volley his first and Fulham’s second, in their 4-1 Europa League win over Wisla Krakow.
Two Iranian footballers may face the lash after an “immoral” goal celebration on the pitch in which one player grabbed the other’s bottom.
Footage of the live televised match showed defender Mohammad Nosrati pinching the backside of Persepolis teammate Sheys Rezaei during a goal celebration against rivals Damash Gilan.
The pair were fined almost £25,000 each and have been banned indefinitely from all football activities by the Football Federation of Iran (FFIRI), and now face the possibility of receiving 74 lashes.
The last time I checked it was still 2011.
“[It is] a violation of public chastity based on current Iranian social values”, Judge Valiollah Hosseni told the Fars News Agency. “It is even worse to do these actions before the eyes of thousands of spectators and TV cameras. The punishment of this crime is up to two months of prison and 74 lashes.”
I dread to think what the punishment might be for taking one’s shirt off.
Match fixing probe didn’t go deep enough
Existing measures to deal with match-fixing in the K-League may not go far enough, the Korean Football Association has revealed.
Dozens of people have been charged with rigging K-League games and 47 former and current players have been banned from football for life, after players admitted taking bribes from betting rings to fix matches. Sadly, a coach and a player have taken their own lives as a result of their involvement in the scandal
KFA spokesman Lee Won-Jae said steps taken by the body – including life bans, raising players’ salaries and docking points from clubs if a corrupt player is caught – may not be enough on their own to deter approaches by gambling syndicates.
“The steps taken so far are not sufficient,” Lee told AFP ahead of Saturday’s AFC Champions League final between K-League winners Jeonbuk Motors and Qatari side Al Sadd in Jeonju.
“We know such moves (life bans) hurt the development of our football society, but they were inevitable to reform our soccer world,” Lee said, adding he hoped the K-League would “overcome these difficulties.”
FIFA starts to worry
FIFA said it’s “surprised” by the comments made by an executive at sponsor Emirates that the airline is considering ending a deal with FIFA after the 2014 World Cup finals.
FIFA said it’s trying to clarify the comments with Emirates, though it stated it generally has a “very positive relationship with all of our commercial affiliates and media rights licensees.”
Emirates signed an eight-year contract with FIFA in 2006 worth $195 million. It expressed concern about claims of corruption within the organization when FIFA’s presidential election was tainted by allegations of vote-buying.
Burying your head in sand…
Chelsea midfielder Florent Malouda has acknowledged that racism still exists in football, and believes the best way to deal with it is to ignore the abuse and get on with the game.
“I think it is really difficult to stay calm when you suffer from racism, especially in a place like a stadium where you should come to enjoy yourself and not to abuse players or anyone,” the French winger said.
“You have to stay focused on the game, so I think the best answer is to ignore them and, if it does happen, just respond with a smile.”
That’s easier said than done, especially when the abuse emanates from your own supporters, or team-mates even.
Malouda was speaking on behalf of the Show Racism the Red Card campaign.
“I would say football, or sport in general, is a perfect example of how different people from different origins, religions or cultures can be together,” he said.
“Racism comes from people who don’t know the real origin of the human race and can’t recognise that there is only one real race – the human one.
“I don’t know if you can give advice; those people need to educate themselves and need to learn more about life because I think that most of the people who do that are scared of something.
“They think the other person represents a danger, which is wrong and they need to learn that it is wrong.”
Prince abdicates responsibility
Milan and Ghana midfielder Kevin Prince-Boateng has quit international football in order to focus on his fitness for his club, Milan.
A statement read: ”The Ghana Football Association has received a letter from player Kevin Prince-Boateng on his decision to resign from the senior national team, the Black Stars.
”According to Kevin, the physical demands of playing for both club and country at high levels are taking a toll on his health.”
The hectic nightlife in Milan can’t be be doing his body any favours either.
The announcement comes just weeks after Ghana Football Association president Kwesi Nyantekyie and the assistant Black Stars coach flew to Milan and secured agreement with Boateng that he would continue to represent the national team.
You can’t beat an old fashioned goal scramble and here’s one from Besiktas’ 1-0 Europa League game against Dynamo Kive.