Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has told CNN that football must eradicate all forms of racism, following recent high-profile incidents in England which have brought the matter back into sharp focus.
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson signaled his intention to stay at the English Premier League champions for at least three more years but struggling Blackburn wrecked his 70th birthday celebrations with a stunning 3-2 win at Old Trafford Saturday.
Roberto Mancini's cool reaction will only have made the defeat smart all the more. "Is this a great day for Manchester City?" he was asked. "It will be a great day when we win the Barclays Premier League," he said, having offered Sir Alex Ferguson his hand looking as fearful as the rest of us as to what the Manchester United manager might do with it after a 1-6 drubbing. "Now, we've only won one game." Which is true enough, but this was the kind of game, the kind of result, the kind of performance that encourages grand conclusions in the heat of the moment: David Silva is the finest player in the country; the title is already City's to lose; Rio Ferdinand is finished.
It is usually best to be tentative in one's assessment of the preseason [unless of course the subject is Mario Balotelli, in which case a casual backheel is definitely the end of his Manchester City career, if not the end of soccer as we know it]. Remember Tottenham Hotspur's abysmal start to the 2008-09 season? In the summer weeks before they lost to Middlesbrough, Portsmouth, Hull and virtually everyone else on their way to the bottom of the table, Juande Ramos' side had gone unbeaten and racked up a plus-28 goal difference.
We really should know better by now. From the "Ta ra Fergie" banner of 1989, to Alan Hansen's insistence that "you'll win nothing with kids" in the mid-1990s, to the epilogues penned after three seasons trailing in Arsenal's and Chelsea's wake in the noughties, the lesson is clear: write off Sir Alex Ferguson at your peril. Perhaps too many hanker to be the first to forecast the decline of his incredible tenure. Perhaps there wasn't much wrong with calling this United side -- unbeaten until February but only intermittently convincing victors -- the "Crap Invincibles." Certainly, however, those pronouncements underestimated or ignored Ferguson's ken over the course of a long campaign.
For seasoned Alex Ferguson-watchers, the media blackout (reportedly set to end Friday) after Manchester United's loss to Liverpool did not come as a huge surprise. The manager has kept relations with reporters to a minimum for a number of years now; neither the BBC (which once had the temerity to report on his son Jason's involvement in United player transfers ) nor Her Majesty's football press corps is afforded his cooperation after matches these days. Even the club's own TV channel, MUTV (nicknamed "Pravda-TV" by the print media), has felt his wrath before. In October 2005, Ferguson and CEO David Gill stopped the broadcasting of a Roy Keane interview in which the midfielder had made disparaging remarks about some teammates. A few years later, Ferguson complained about the critical line of questioning from a MUTV reporter.
Few Manchester derbies have ever been so hyped; few have ever been so disappointing. It was a game that yielded just one chance of note: the free-kick that Carlos Tevez curved toward the top corner after 35 minutes. The effort lacked pace, though, and Edwin van der Sar was able to make a simple enough diving save. And while most were probably bored rigid, Sir Alex Ferguson could congratulate himself on a job well done.
If you were going to see your first game at Old Trafford, the fabled Manchester United home known as the Theater of Dreams, you couldn't do much better than the night of April 23, 2003, when Man United met Real Madrid in a Champions League showdown for the ages.