Why, Sir Alex?
Ferguson is known for his headline-stealing statements, but his last two have come with an unprecedented speed and intensity. First there was his comment that Robin van Persie could have been killed by a ball kicked in the direction of his head by Swansea’s Ashley Williams. Then, a few days later, there was his remark that Newcastle United was “a wee club in the North-East”.
Many Manchester United fans have either laughed this off as Fergie being Fergie or as some fiendish strategy to deflect attention from his team’s wildly fluctuating form. Personally, I believe that it is more of the former than the latter. I don’t see his words as part of some grand design. Swansea’s qualities are well-documented. Everyone knows that a fully-fit Newcastle team is a difficult proposition. No-one needs reminding that Real Madrid are lying in wait in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, or that Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes should probably be retiring soon, or that a player like Joao Moutinho is sorely needed at the base of Manchester United’s midfield.
Sir Alex Ferguson is a genius. But he is also wholly human, with all the attendant flaws. He seems determined to market Old Trafford as Mordor and himself as Sauron, and I suspect that he is doing it for little other reason than the fact that he can. (One could speculate, of course, that his all-seeing gaze is becoming agitated as he sees Guardiola approaching Eastlands). In any event, this may be a title won by the slimmest of margins, and it’s hard to see how it helps to give other clubs any extra motivation. For better or worse, it seems like it’s just Fergie having fun.