Wednesday 13 December 2017


United boss must smile when he sees the drama at Eastlands

WHEN Alex Ferguson made a stand and told Carlos Tevez he was asking for too much money, it seemed like a move which would cost Manchester United in the long run.

Who knows whether Ferguson's instinct for a troublesome player told him something more about the Argentine than the fact that he had expensive taste, but his decision to show Tevez the door is now looking like an inspired act.

While Ferguson is still juggling many problems which flowed from his decision to let Tevez go, he must be smiling to himself watching Roberto Mancini cope with a player whose mood swings with the wind.

I don't envy Mancini this one. He knows Tevez can win the Premier League for him but he also knows how bad a message it would send to his loyal and hard-working players if he lets him back into the squad.

These decisions happen in a much smaller way on a daily basis and a manager will stand or fall by how he deals these thorny issues of dressing room discipline.


I had to laugh when I saw that Alex Ferguson has waved goodbye to his "hairdryer" approach to dressing room discipline.

Let's be honest, there's nobody left in the game who can stand up to him, never mind one of his own players.

But Ferguson is mellowing, there's not doubt about that and no longer needs to throw kettles and teapots around a room to get someone's attention.

That applies on and off the field. His word is law around Old Trafford and much further afield and in the context of the succession stakes at Manchester United, I thought his promotion of Ryan Giggs as a potential successor was very interesting indeed.

I'm sure most people raised an eyebrow when they saw Gigg's name mentioned as a possible Manchester United manager but I think Ferguson had a few things in mind when he threw it out there for consideration.

First and foremost, Ferguson must be thinking about his legacy; how he wants to leave the club and whose hands he wants to leave it in.

It would be a poor end to a remarkable career if Manchester United went into a downward spiral as soon as he steps aside and I'm sure he has thought about this.

It could well be that Ferguson wants no part in the process to find his own replacement. There are no guarantees in the game and he would not want to be publicly associated with someone who made a mess of it.

But that won't stop him speaking privately with the Manchester United Board and the Glazer family and bringing his considerable influence into play.

There are many examples in the past of club owners and directors who almost resent the power accumulated by a manager who has a prolonged run of success and when it comes to replacing him, will take advice from all sides but not from the man best placed to make a judgement.

At Anfield, Bill Shankly built the team and the torch passed to Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Kenny Dalglish. The key was continuity and decision making based on common sense.

My own situation at Leeds is a good example too. Don Revie made it known that he would recommend me to take over when he moved on but the directors chose to ignore the man who made the club great and appointed Brian Clough.

I'm not saying I would have done the job any better but at the very least, Leeds would have had continuity.


That's why Giggs is not such a strange choice when you think about it. I don't really know Ryan Giggs and I certainly don't know whether he would make a good manager or not.

But I can guarantee you one thing. Ferguson knows and if he was to pick Giggs in a few years time when he finally does quit, who would argue with him.

Of course, Manchester United is a global brand now and a completely different operation than the one Ferguson found when he first arrived.

Some might argue that a £1billion company needs a big name manager to succeed Ferguson but the best companies in the world also benefit from stability and a steady line of succession.

It could be that when the time comes, Ryan Giggs will be the most logical choice of all. Someone like Guus Hiddink or Jose Mourino or even Martin O'Neill would have their own ways, their own likes and dislikes and that might not suit the Glazers.

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