First of all, heartiest congratulations to Barcelona for a victory well deserved and well earned. Beautiful football is what you play, guys.
Although I must say that the display in the final of the Champions League last night that resulted in Barca’s win, was not only a result of Barca’s above par performance, but also of United’s shockingly below average performance. Coupled by a poor draw of luck of course. They were denied a string of fouls, one of which was just outside the goalkeeper’s box; and a penalty for a hand ball by David Villa. However, a deserving team would not need these handicaps to win.
However, let us get back to what this post is about: Why it is time for Sir Alex Fergusson to go. The guy receives the best of respects from me and from every other United fan for what he has done to the team. Perhaps the greatest thing to have happened to the Old Trafford outfit. He has been simply a chapter in history himself.
However, we know that all of us are but mortals and that everything has to go sometime or the other. And the same applies to SAF. He just does not seem to be his old self. Infact when the 2009-2010 seasons ended and there were rumours about him quitting, I for one was not very sad about it. My thoughts and opinions are not just a shot in the dark but an accumulation of several things. Let me draw comparisons from the last match played by him itself. Moreso when you want to be compared, why not do it with the team that is the best at what is being discussed.
Look at the Barca gang. You have players who have BECOME stars while playing for the team. And almost all of them have been around for a very long time together. They seem hungry, active and energetic. They pounce on the ball like hungry dogs do on a flesh of meat. And they take opportunistic shots. My point here is, Barca have cultivated a style of playing thanks to their manager. And because of his dynamism, he ATTRACTS the kind of players from the world over who WANT to play under him. Same goes for Mourinho!
On the other side, you have SAF whose tactics have become outdated, at best. Mind you, I still do not think they are the best team in England (Arsenal would be that) and they won the League title only because Arsenal and Chelsea could not. It was because the others faultered, that United won the title. But honestly, even this 12th under SAF was nothing like the other 11, or at least the other 6 that I have been around to see. His approach to the game has slackened a pace and his dynamism has gone a bit blunt in the last few years robbing him of being considered a true TACTICIAN.
He does not attract the bubbling class of players anymore. Rooney was only justified in his outburst and a sudden possible exit. United can now BUY the players they want. But they cannot entice them into coming there. Ronaldo went away. So did Tevez. Nistelrooy too did the same before them. Forlan was sold and he does not want to come back. Joe Cole chose Liverpool ahead of United. Rooney wanted to get away. Vidic could possibly be on his way out. They just don’t want to be in Old Trafford. And SAF had to depend on the used feet of Giggs and Scholes. Mind you, these are again players of class. But you have them on the feild or guide others and provide inlets; not to the running about and puffing up and down the pitch!
Another factor is AGE. SAF is old. No one can deny that. No matter how young he feels even now, he has to face something; there are other people who feel younger than he does! Arsene, Mourinho, PepG, Redknapp, Moyes etc. are all the best of managers out there. And all of them are young! Time and again we have seen that age gets the better of managers (Dalgish will have to defy that in the second season as well!). A camera caught SAF’s hand shivering and trembling at one moment during the game while the man sat there clueless as to what was happening to his team!
While PepG stood there outside the pitch calling out to his players, SAF could only warm his seat and look out in despair. He no more has that energy to get out there, shout at his players, make them do what they should. Players need that. They need to be shown where they are lacking, what they are not doing and where have they left the gaps open. While Arsene, Redknapp, Mourinho and PepG (even Dalgish!) do it in every single match, SAF is an irritating scene perched high in his cozy seat.
Even when it comes to tactics, SAF seems to be out of breath. While Mourinho twice broke into Barca’s ring this season, SAF failed for the second time in the two meetings with Barca in three years! Barca’s play a passing game. Quick passes, short passes, tantential passes, front and back passes. United should have planned to interject them. Instead they stood around and saw the ball being passed from one player to another. And when it came to them, they depended on their long passes to do them some good. Really? Rooney and Hernandez against their tall defenders? Long passes??
And the final reason I believe why SAF’s time is done, OPPORTUNITY. You have three top managers (four if you consider Moyes) who could very easily be lured into taking the United job. Mourinho I unhappy at Madrid and has already stated he wants to return to England. Redknapp is ambitious and would be ready. However, I would not favour him since he could easily be lured out of United’s post by a “better opportunity” (like an England job! Who knows!). And finally PepG. Although he has signed a short one-year contract with the Catalonians, he is just out of challenge. He has played with the best players for long. He has cultivated a team, a style of play, a winning pattern. He has won it all! And is just out of work. United could be just the place for him to reignite the challenge. But OPPORTUNITY was the key argument. And although these managers could be brought in, there are other pastures too! Chelsea job is available. And city could change their minds and splash the cash. They are committed to excel and have shown they will do anything to get to that!
So if SAF has to give this team an able successor, now is the time. You have done it all, Sir. But with all the due respect and love, we understand that you should now sit back and let someone else take your chair. We have been blessed with your presence for a long time and have loved every bit of it. However, the time for a change has come. And it cannot be helped!