Alex Ferguson and the concept of “Respect”

November 12, 2009

Alex Ferguson should be recognised as one of the greatest club managers who ever stalked the touchline. His record speaks for itself, 14 League titles (including the ones won in Scotland), 2 Champions’ Leagues and too many other assorted domestic and European honours to list here. Not only this, but he’s built a veritable Manchester United empire, Man U are arguably one of the most recognised brands in the world with fans from Tokyo to New York and all the parts in between (and even some in Manchester). Yep, whichever way you slice it, Fergie is a real great of the game.

But football pays a heavy price for accommodating this kind of genius.

For not only is Ferguson one of the world’s greatest managers, he’s also one of the world’s greatest moaners, and to be quite honest, I’m getting sick of it. Manchester United are never beaten fairly by better opposition in Fergie’s world, oh no, everything is the officials’ fault. This lays bare the theory that Fergie moans the most when his team are at their most vulnerable. And that’s a terrible thought, because Man U have looked fairly poor for most of the season so far.

But Alex Ferguson’s moaning has wider implications for the game than just everybody’s bleeding ear holes. First of all, if the manager of the biggest club in the world is complaining about refs every week, what’s stopping every other manager doing the same thing? Actually, nothing does stop today’s Premiership managers bemoaning the performance of the appointed match officials. It seems that you can’t watch MOTD without listening to Allardyce, Benitez and Wenger griping on about some perceived injustice.  

Luckily the FA have decided to grow a backbone and properly censure Ferguson for his utterances, a 4 match touchline ban (2 suspended until the end of the season) and a £20,000 fine seems like an appropriate punishment and it certainly gives the FA’s much maligned and roundly ignored “Respect” campaign a boost. Who knows, maybe coming down on Ferguson like this may send out a message to the rest of the Premiership.

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