I hate Sir Alex Ferguson

by Ewan Day-Collins

Ferguson RefereeI suppose the death of Margaret Thatcher was much like the passing of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. Like Thatcher, Fergie had his fans: 800 million of them, or so we’re told. And like the Baroness, he also managed to piss a lot of people off – people like me.

Over the past few days, we’ve read endless tributes to the old grump.  “Best manager ever,” I’m told. Well maybe he is. But I’m not here to eulogise old Sir Alex. So we’ll launch straight in.

Referees. When referee Jeff Winter handed Roy Keane a red card, he wasn’t assigned a United game for the following two years, following a judgement from his Lord Justice Fergie. Winter later noted that the Football Association – run, partly, by board member and United Chief Executive under Fergie, David Gill – “is reticent to give Manchester United games to referees that Ferguson has criticised in the past”. Oh, and let’s look at Alan Wiley. Fergie lambasted Wiley for apparently being “fat and unfit” after his team could only draw with Sunderland. Wiley “agreed” to retire at the end of the season. Coincidence?

And then Mark Clattenburg oversaw the 6-1 hammering at Old Trafford that United received from Manchester City at the beginning of the 2011-12 season. Fergie criticised Clattenburg (and his players, which is unusual). Clattenburg didn’t oversee a United game for the rest of the season.

Basically, Sir Alex always gets his way. And that’s annoying, because fair play is quite an important thing in sport. This frustration is heightened because, like any great dictator, he then claims to be the supreme moral arbiter. He throws tantrums over inconsequential refereeing decisions with the frequency of a whining toddler. It’s always their fault. And then he’s praised for defending his team. We also end up with entrenched institutions such as “Fergie Time”, the doctrine being: don’t blow the whistle till United score, whatever the clock says.

Ferguson is puerile. He defied his non-negotiable obligation to be interviewed by the BBC for years because they broadcast claims that associated dodgy dealings with his son. It was pathetic. But also outrageous – would any other manager have got away with it?

Fergie’s also a humourless hypocrite. He criticised Real Madrid for tapping up Cristiano Ronaldo, forgetting his similar tactics with regards to Wayne Rooney. And his gum-chewing, hairdryer-spurting, watch-checking touchline antics are infuriating to behold. His persistent pestering of the fourth official is as aggressive as it is maddening.

Yet, fundamentally, my unashamed sour grapes with Fergie stem from his success: he’s a winner. Plenty of managers stroll provocatively down the touchline, but none can do so with such irritating and assured arrogance as Sir Alex can.

He’s won absolutely everything and engineered the most prosperous sports brand in the world. I live in South West London, very near three Premier League teams and plenty further down the divisions. And yet there exists a sizeable group of Manchester United fans. Yes, no one takes United fans seriously – how can you? But their mere presence is a mark of the team’s worldwide success, a constant reminder of Fergie’s unfailing superiority.

I hate Sir Alex Ferguson; this isn’t mere dislike, but a bitter resentment that has been built over many painful years. I hate him even more for having to write ‘Sir’. Soon, even more annoyingly, to be ‘Lord’ – the thought of Fergie passing the laws that govern me is beyond humour.

He’s frustrating because of his antics, because of the refereeing injustices, because of the last-minute winners and because of the “fans” that follow him with idolatrous fervour. Would I care if he had been unsuccessful? No. And that’s the most annoying part. The mere act of me writing this is a concession to his triumphs.

At least he’s finally gone. Good riddance.

35 Responses

  1. Soccerisma says:

    Criticising fair enough, but stop bullying and slating the 17 year boy will ya.

  2. Neutral Football fan says:

    All these United fans here are too thick to even understand the article. The guy has written an honest article about why he can’t stand Sir Alex – he is a winner (even though his antics were irritating and he certainly dictated officiating sometimes). I think United fans are criticizing this guy for the exact same things they defend Sir Alex for – honesty and saying what he thinks no matter who it pisses off (see UnitedSoldiers’s post). Remember the Newcastle game this year? The only manager in the world who would have gotten away without punishment for the way he harassed the fourth official. Anyway, thank you Sir Alex because I think its pretty clear that you are the greatest manager to ever grace the game.

  3. James Clancy James Clancy says:

    I totally agree. I contribute quite regularly here and would love to have written a similar story but didn’t have the guts such was the endless cow toying to Alex Ferguson (I refuse to type the ‘Sir’ part).

  4. Saurav Anchlia says:

    Sir,
    I do not understand the reason for your dislike.
    Sir Alex has no official power to control the referees Each referee makes an independent decision regarding the extra time,yellow card,red card,and penalty that is to be given.
    Yes Sir Alex criticizes the referees for their mistakes or when the decisions do not go his way, but that is something every manager does.
    You research certainly shows that referees who haven’t been good have been taken off games involving united, but if you do research i am pretty sure you will find similar cases against other managers.
    The bottom line being, the referee chooses to be influenced by Sir Alex.
    He might have criticized real for trying tap up ronaldo, but you very conveniently seem to forget that he had the option of not letting ronaldo go, yet he choose to let him leave to fulfill his dream.
    you conveniently forget that it is a policy of united that they hardly ever speak up about their potential transfers. They behave with utmost integrity in the transfer market.
    You don’t incidents with drunken players or agents demanding more money (Rooney being a rare exception)

  5. James Clancy James Clancy says:

    I totally agree. I contribute quite regularly here and would love to have written a similar story but didn’t have the guts such was the endless kowtoying to Alex Ferguson (I refuse to type the ‘Sir’ part).

  6. Neil Sherwin Neil Sherwin says:

    So many bites! Fair play Ewan.

  7. King Peanut says:

    You have taken a sample of 3 incidents and drawn inferences. Basically, you are what we call in statistics, an idiot.

  8. Jay says:

    Excellent piece young man. Keep telling it how it is for as long as you can. I fear the branwashed hordes must be foaming at the mouth at this one!

  9. Rick says:

    It’s a good thing you didn’t include your Twitter and Facebook links below the article because you would surely be harassed by the die-hearted United fans. Anyways i applaud you on expressing your feelings!

  10. Bob Chapman says:

    Great article Ewan. Don’t give up.

    You’ve clearly hit a plethora of nerves so sign of a good article I’d say.

    I love the responses. Particularly the ones from people who can’t write telling you that you’ll never be a journalist. They’ve really made me laugh. My favourite line being: “Stick to hating, you’re doomed before you start.” How generous of this chap to offer his advice. It’s a shame he’s clearly never read any sports journalism since most articles written on football are laced with hate or bias in some form or another.

    I think this article proves that you’ll do just fine.

  11. Steve Charlton says:

    Well written, factually correct and interesting article.

    Even if I was a Man U fan (who aren’t real fans) would have to admit this is pretty much true, so I don’t know why people on here are bothering to say otherwise.

    Keep on writing!!!

  12. Walter says:

    Nice article and very surprised it comes from a 17-year old. BTW, I also hate that old prick too…

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