Posts tagged ‘Old Trafford’
How fitting was it that Manchester United should seal victory in the last minute of normal time against Swansea City in Sir Alex Ferguson’s last home game in charge of the team, as so many times in his 1499 games in charge, and his 723 at Old Trafford, his charges have managed to snatch victory. His career as a coach has been truly remarkable, not only in terms of the trophies won but also in the players he has developed. There is even a symmetry to his departure after winning 38 trophies for Manchester United, as he leaves after 26 years in charge. It was in fact 26 years that the club had been waiting to win a league Championship again before Ferguson lead them to their first League title in 1993.
One can go on about his achievements of which there are so many but there are some which appear to have slipped under the radar.
When Ferguson took over at Manchester United in 1986 the club was simply an under performing football club with a massive supporter base. In 1991 when shares in the club were listed on the London Stock Exchange there was an added pressure to being the boss of Manchester United. Ironically along with that added pressure came added cash from the floatation of the club. Money that helped bring in key players that lead Manchester United to its first Premier League title in 1993. Success as they say bred success and that in turn kept the shareholders happy.
Ferguson managed to negotiate the turbulent waters in the boardroom, so much so that when shares in the club were listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2012 the prospectus stated that the projections were ‘highly dependent’ on certain individuals. It went on to say ‘any successor to our current manager may not be as successful as our current manager. When he announced his retirement last week these shares dropped five per cent.
In addition to having to deal with stock market fluctuations, as well as player form, Ferguson lead the club to new frontiers. He and key staff realised the number of supporters the club had in Asia who were never likely to be able to visit the ‘Theatre of Dreams,’ Old Trafford, so made the decision to take the club to them. It was a shrewd move when one considers that last year market research done by Kantar estimated that there were 659 million fans of Manchester United with 325 million in Asia.
Ferguson embraced such a move and has been credited with thinking more about the supporters in Asia than the club’s commercial backers. In Malaysia he asked the fans to be at the airport to meet the team arriving and arranged for them to mix with the players.
Amazingly Ferguson has also won praise for his signing of Asian players, unlike other clubs the feeling amongst the Asian fans is that he has never signed these players purely to attract Asian supporters or sponsors. Maybe the success of the players signed has helped in that regard. South Korea’s Park Ji Sung becoming the first Asian player to win Europe’s Champions League as well as the first to wear Manchester United’s Captain’s armband. More recently Japan’s Shinji Kagawa became the first Asian to score a Premier League hat-trick. For example who can remember the signing of China’s Dong Fangzhou?
He will definitely be a hard act to follow and hopefully David Moyes will be grateful to have him in the background lending advice, and that the shadow of the great man will not be too much for the new manager to handle.
One thing is for sure Sir Alex Ferguson has probably done more for Manchester United on and off the park than any one man in a very long time. His legacy is phenomenal.
There is no doubting West Indian Chris Gayle’s record-breaking 175 for Royal Challengers of Bangalore will be an innings that is talked about for many years to come. A century in 20 balls is a truly remarkable feat. His 175 coming in just 66 balls and including 17 sixes and 13 fours, statistics that beggar belief.
This innings may also increase the divide between cricket fans of differing generations.
His incredible innings was compiled in a T20 match in the Indian Premier League, an officially recognised first class fixture, but a form of the game that many traditional fans of the game frown upon. A game in which it is frequently a case of hit and miss – as Gayle is testament to – and a form of the game where brute strength is a substitute for solid technique.
So where should this innings stand? Is it the greatest ever played? Or is that determined by the context of the game and not the number of runs scored and how quickly. There is no doubt Chris Gayle probably doesn’t care.
Chris Gayle opted to make himself a ‘gun for hire’ after he fell out with the West Indies Cricket Board, just as T20 was becoming popular. He knew he was talented, and he also realised if he was to make a living from cricket he better focus on T20 where the opportunities were far greater. Immense credit must go to Gayle who has adapted his technique to suit this form of the game. He uses minimum footwork which is complimented by his ability to transfer his weight by leaning back or forwards. He then lets his long arms from his 6-foot 4-inch frame swing freely through the arc to great effect. Another aspect he has tinkered with and which works exceptionally well in this form of the game is staying deep in his crease, which enables him to get under the ball and combined with his huge strength lift it over the boundary. This innings being a perfect example of that ploy.
There have been many great innings in the game of cricket, in the one day version as well as the Test arena, so where does Gayle’s latest effort rate amongst them.
Some wonderful innings that spring to mind to start the debate, are Viv Richards 189 not out in a One day International in 1984 at Old Trafford against England. Who can forget Herschelle Gibbs 175 off 111 balls against Australia at the Wanderers in 2006. Many forget too that the ‘little master’ India’s Sachin Tendulkar did what many believed impossible scoring 200 in a one-day international against South Africa at Gwalior in 2010.
There have been many outstanding innings in the test arena as well, who can forget VVS Laxman’s 281 against Australia in Kolkata in 2001, or Ian Botham’s 149 not out at Headingley in 1981, also against Australia. Then there is Gordon Greenidge’s 214 not out against England at Lords in 1984, and Steve Waugh’s 108 at Manchester in 1997.
The hardest thing is to work out where such an innings sits, especially in a format of the game where caution is thrown to the wind. There is no doubt it was impressive, destructive, powerful and a sight to behold, but as great innings go in the context of affecting a game or a series, it fails to register. But then again the modern followers of the game who are much younger than this writer may well disagree.
(Please note the memorable innings mentioned were all ones that the writer was fortunate to witness on television or live. There are undoubtedly many others he has not witnessed).
No, Sir Alex Ferguson is not showing Wayne Rooney the door from Old Trafford.
Instead and autographed and laquer-sealed number 10 shirt belonging to the Manchester United striker is to be mounted on the petrol tank of a very special motorbike that will be going under the hammer next month.
On the rear mud flap will be artwork depicting Rooney’s goal of the season in 2011 against Manchester City that helped United win the Premier League title; this was his perfectly executed overhead kick.
The motorbike which is being promoted as having been designed by Rooney is expected to sell for between GBP40,000 – 60,000 according to Auctioneers Bonhams, with all proceeds going to the charity, Kidsaid. The 2012 Lauge Jensen diamond encrusted custom-made cruiser will go under the hammer at a sports memorabilia auction in Chester on February 20th.
No doubt it will be snapped up by some Manchester United fan somewhere in the world, although a great many fans could think of nothing worse than looking at such shirt on the petrol tank between your legs every time you went out for a ride.
Gold Coast coach Miron Bleiberg believes that Perth Glory can be a title contender this season, and there would be few who at this current time would disagree.
He also stated that it is good for the people of Perth that the club is in this position as they always used to be a strong club in the old NSL.
Glory coach Ian Ferguson was upbeat and agreed with Bleiberg about the expectations placed on players and coaches of Perth Glory by fans used to challenging for national titles.
“I want a 2-3 year deal to get Perth Glory into the top six every year.” He said after the 4-0 demolition of Gold Coast United.
There are many fans that do not like Ferguson as coach, but he has delivered and the brand of football being played is without doubt the best witnessed at NIB Stadium since the end of the NSL. That alone should warrant him being given an extension to his contract or at least discussing one. It should not be about personalities.
Sir Alex Ferguson is revered at Old Trafford due to his success, was he the most popular manager with the fans when he started? No, but he has done what he was paid to do and more.
Miron Bleiberg alluded to the age of the Perth Glory squad in his post match comments, and that when you buy experience you also often have players on the homeward stretch of their careers. This will need to be managed carefully. Many players have put in performances that warrant contract extensions, yet to keep moving forward some may have to be let go.
Ian Ferguson has the strength to not let sentiment get in the way of those hard decisions. Then again a new manager will have no relationship with these players so will also be able to make the hard decisions, but will he be able to build on what Ferguson and his team have created a team playing a wonderful style of football, that if they had been more ruthless could have embarrassed Gold Coast far more than the 4-0 result.