Liverpool’s Lesson in Silva-Service provides a fitting tribute to the career of Gary Speed

On an incredibly emotional day for football the Premier League’s leaders were pushed all the way at Anfield as they struggled to a draw against Kenny Dalglish’s improving Liverpool side. Perhaps spurred on by their fantastic late win over Chelsea last week and maybe even the saddening events of Sunday morning, Liverpool became the first team to prevent Manchester City from scoring twice in a Premier League game so far this season and in all honesty probably deserved more than their reward of a solitary point.

On Sunday afternoon Anfield, infamous for it’s roaring atmosphere, provided the perfect stage for a huge Premier League game that did justice to the memory of Gary Speed who will forever be regarded as one of the Premier League’s most dedicated and fondly remembered players. Aside from this shocking news there were two other sad stories within the footballing world in the form of Liverpool’s reserve keeper Brad Jones’ son’s passing away, and the tragic death of Togo international players in a fatal bus crash. How fitting it was then that the crowd and players at both of Sunday afternoon’s Premier League fixtures behaved and performed with magnificent valour and respect.

The encounter at Anfield was a terrific showcase of fast-paced and exciting Premier League football and the home side will go away feeling immensely proud of their team’s showing against the division’s outstanding side thus far this season, in spite of how close they came to snatching what would probably have been a deserved victory.

The key to Liverpool’s successes lay primarily with their admirable handling of the division’s outstanding individual so far this season; David Silva. Up to this point no outfit has appeared capable of handling the Spanish playmaker’s incredible league form which has furthered his reputation as one of world football’s most exciting talents. The man whose own team mates call ‘The Magician’ has been electric in nearly every one of City’s league games this season, but Liverpool today somehow mustered up the defensive strength and nouse to limit his impact upon the game.

For the first twenty-to-twenty five minutes City looked every bit the League’s strongest side and were moving the ball around with great confidence and class, spurred on almost inevitably by Silva’s dynamic movement and smart dictation of play. However, from the moment their early dominance put them in front, Liverpool came storming back at them with enormous courage and eventually deserved to walk away with the three points. The way they pressed Silva while he roamed freely behind City’s strikers was magnificent and for almost an hour they completely marked him out of playing a significant role in the match. As the game wore on he cut more and more of a dejected figure as Liverpool’s consistently ferocious pressure denied their opponents the opportunity to feed their diminutive playmaker.

Testament to their unrelenting commitment throughout the game came in ironic fashion when for just a split-second their guard dropped and Silva was presented with the most glorious chance to win the match right on the ninety minute mark. With Edin Dzeko outdoing them on the flank, Liverpool were left bare and seemingly helpless for one of the first times all game only for the Spaniard to spurn his side’s golden opportunity with an uncharacteristic momentary hesitation, which allowed the home side’s dedicated defensive unit to regroup and man the goal-line as Silva eventually conjured up a tame attempt.

The major plaudits for Liverpool’s immense cohesiveness on the day must go to the outstanding Lucas Leiva and Charlie Adam who never shirked their respective duties to squeeze City’s most-prized asset out of extensive periods of the game whilst also launching their own side’s numerous counter-attacks. Their commitment to the cause and effective use of possession inspired those around them to produce the best defensive performance that Manchester City have faced thus far this season. Watch and learn Manchester United, watch and learn… This was a performance worthy of a push for a Champions League place and the emotion and honesty conjured up by Liverpool’s players on the day was reflective of Gary Speed’s own and enormously respected football stylings.

Congratulations Liverpool, and I think I speak on behalf of everyone when I say R.I.P Gary Speed.

At 36 is David Beckham still football’s most wanted man?

Having once again played a key role in a team’s success could David Beckham be about to re-locate again in the name of playing top class football? After winning his first piece of silverware as an LA Galaxy player Beckham now has to bring his feet back to earth and face up to the reality that his contract is about to expire at the MLS club.

He has of course been subject to months of endless press speculation as to where his future lies and has repetitively had to fob off questions about his next career move, but no longer. Now is the time for Beckham to make another huge career based decision and now is the time that the media have been so desperately waiting for.

The major names that have been banded about in terms of their potential interest in signing up the England icon are Paris St Germain and Tottenham Hotspur, but he has also been linked with a sensational return to either Manchester United or Milan, as well as moves to clubs such as QPR and West Ham. All of the aforementioned moves are not without any foundation but some are certainly more likely than others, for instance, could you really envisage ‘Golden Balls’ striding out in the blue and white hoops of QPR at Loftus Road every week? Well… quite frankly… no. That isn’t to say that QPR wouldn’t provide a challenge to ‘Sir David in waiting’ but they are hardly a club in-keeping with the prestigious list he has ticked off thus far. Perhaps the most ridiculous of all the speculation is that linking him with a role as a contestant on ITV’s ‘Dancing On Ice’, personally I think this is less likely even than a move to Accrington Stanley! No offence Accrington fans…

Speaking as a Manchester United fan it is hard for me to stomach the thought of him playing for a rival Premier League club, but, if it meant I got to see my hero back doing what he does best on the stage that placed him firmly in all England fans’ hearts then I reckon I could deal with it. For that reason my preference would be him moving to Spurs, which off the back of his near move to the club last year isn’t the most unlikely of all the options. Though he has seemed to hush any reports linking him with a move back to British shores you’d think there must be at least a little temptation for him to come back given that he is a Londoner and has never played for any of the city’s clubs. Another major consideration for Beckham must also be his ambitions to lead out the Great Britain side at the Olympics next year, a goal which would surely be made more attainable by a return to the British spotlight in the Premier League.

Though a move to a London club would be great for his English followers the two more feasible options seem to be staying in LA or moving to Paris. The lure of maintaining the life he has built for himself and his family in America must be incredibly strong for the world’s most famous family-man, and having eventually won round any of his remaining critics in the US it would perhaps be a shame for him to just up-sticks and return to Europe. However, the satisfaction of ticking off another big club and major European city would also be very tempting for Beckham who is without any doubt still ferociously ambitious.

A move to Paris St Germain seems entirely feasible as they have recently established themselves as one of the world football’s financial super-powers and as such would have the means to pull off the mov which would inevitably be rather pricey. The prestigious nature of the city itself makes it an attractive option and given his other-half’s prominence in the fashion world it does seem to be a move tailor-fitted to the Beckham clan if Mr and Mrs Beckham deem it appropriate to move the family on once again in the name of football.

Regardless of where he does choose to see out his career, it is clear that David Beckham is still far from a spent force. He remains determined to find a career move that will not just financially benefit him but also challenge him as a footballer and provide him with an opportunity to stake a claim for London 2012. He may be getting on in years but it certainly  appears that Mr.Beckham still has an enormous amount of pulling power, not just as a personality and a brand but also as a man still capable of plying his trade at the top level. My only tickets for next year’s Olympic Games are for the football final and I would absolutely love to see my hero leading out Team GB at Wembley, it would after all be very fitting if he were to be honoured with such a responsibility.

Sepp Pratter

When you thought he couldn’t make any more faux-pas he went and outdid himself. Sepp Blatter: Idiot of the year 2011!

There isn’t too much to say that hasn’t already been said a thousand times about Mr.Blatter but I thought I’d add my two cents. So off I go on a little rant…

First and foremost I would like to express my surprise and disgust that racism seems to be rearing it’s ugly head in our premiere football league. I had by no means assumed that racism in top-flight football was a thing of the past, but, I did believe that the English Premier League was one of the league’s in world football where it was limited to an incredibly small minority. In truth, even if the likes of Luis Suarez and John Terry are proven guilty of racially abusing opponents then it is still probably a very small minority of players in the Premier League that are guilty of partaking in such foul behaviour. It is still apalling to think though that our incredibly diverse league which represents an enormous amount of different nationalities could have any problems when it comes to racial abuse.

For what it’s worth I don’t actually think that John Terry did racially abuse Anton Ferdinand in the infamous slow-mo clip on youtube, that isn’t to say though that he didn’t at all in another instance. I actually believe he was aiming a torrent of slightly more tolerable (but still repulsive) abuse at the referee or Ferdinand. In place of the key word “black” which he is accused of having said before the more obvious profanity, I believe he said “blind”, but honestly who knows apart from those who were within ear-shot of the event. Also, I have no idea whether Luis Suarez persistently racially abused Patrice Evra throughout the Liverpool Vs Manchester United game last month but I have no reason to disbelieve Evra’s accusations and the fact that he is claiming it was persistent would suggest to me that there is definitely at least some level of truth in his claims.

No matter whether these two players were guilty of the accusations being levelled at them, it is clear that Sepp Blatter’s public response to fears of a major re-emergence of the problem in the English game were wholly inappropriate. For a man of such “high” standing in the game to demonstrate such an incredible level of ignorance and frankly such a lack of class is outrageous. I think Mr.Blatter would be very wise to step down from his post or alternatively I think his minions at FIFA HQ should ask him to retire from his role as President.

It is however with great sadness that I think this isn’t the last we’ll see of Sepp as President. It really does seem as though the blundering fool is untouchable and that if he asked his fellow FIFA higher powers to jump off a cliff with him that they would race him all the way to Beachy Head. I will take this opportunity to state on record that I don’t think Sepp Blatter is a racist, that would be an incredibly naive thing to take from the nightmares of the last few days at FIFA HQ, but I do think he is completely and utterly irresponsible. To suggest that racism on the field is not a problem and that if it were common place that players would accept it and “shake hands” at the the end of a game is beyond words frankly. This latest bout of loose-tongue disorder from Mr.Blatter really does put the goal-line technology debate in perspective doesn’t it (I do however think that this is utterly ridiculous too). Hats off Mr.Blatter, you certainly do know how to cause a stir with  your unenviable lack of social awareness.

Super-Scott setting the standard for England’s young guns

Amidst all the hype and excitement about England’s emerging talents there was one man that has stood head and shoulders above the rest against Spain on Saturday; Scott Parker. This week was meant to be all about the absence of big name players such as John Terry, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney and how their much younger and less experienced International team mates would cope when asked to fill the void. However, Saturday’s game was well and truly taken by the scruff of the neck by Scott Parker who does indeed lack International experience, but he certainly isn’t a young prospect like Phil Jones, Danny Wellbeck or Jack Rodwell who all contributed to Saturday’s morale boosting win.

It is so rare in the modern era for someone to get their first major opportunity at International level when they are in their thirties but that is sadly the case for Parker. For years now I have been a great admirer of Parker as a player and have been at a loss when trying to explain why England manager after England manager have overlooked him as a viable option to play in the holding midfield role for the national side. For me he has been one of the most consistent performers in the Premier League over the past six or seven years and minus the early career blip that he suffered upon moving to Chelsea, he has managed to impress for every club that he’s played for. His success at several clubs is demonstrated by the fact that he has been named ‘permanent’ Captain for two different sides, Newcastle and West Ham, both of which are notoriously difficult to lead. In spite of the hard challenge posed by the Captaincy role at these two famous English clubs he has shone in the role. Parker excels as a leader and it is strange to think that such understanding of responsibility hasn’t earned him greater International opportunities earlier in his career.

His successful graduation through the “old-school” English route to the height of International football makes his long-standing lack of caps all the more odd. In classic fashion Parker ‘graduated’ from the now defunct Lilleshall School of Footballing Excellence and went on to represent his country at all levels of youth football, including several caps for the Under 21 side. This now retired procession through Lilleshall and then onto the youth ranks of the national side was once your sure-fire path to a starring role in England squads from a fairly young age, but Parker having made his full international debut in 2003 had only picked up another two caps going into the start of 2011.

In the wake of England’s horrific World Cup campaign in 2010 and his magnificent start to the 2010-11 season with West Ham, Parker was wisely gifted the opportunity to become an exception to the modern era’s unwritten rules regarding international selection. It seems that nowadays if you are in your late twenties or early thirties and you have yet to establish yourself as an English international then you are almost certain to miss out on the chance of ever impressing yourself on this stage. Parker though was called in by Fabio Cappello and has since gone from strength to strength.

For all too long a period it seemed that the England selectors had deemed Parker a solid and reliable Premier League performer but nothing exceeding this. Many managers and coaches must have been guilty of this assumption so it is unfair to direct blame at any clear targets but perhaps good old Sven was the first to play the ignorance card, which if you think about it is rather strange. We all know hom much Sven loved a solid performer don’t we? Think Emile Heskey, think Nicky Butt, think a young Owen Hargreaves. These players did all the simple things well and allowed those around them to provide the spark. For me, Parker offers everything these players did in their time as International regulars, and with the exception of Hargreaves who developed into an outstanding International performer, I believe Parker offers much more.

Thankfully, Fabio was eventually drawn to the lure of Parker as an International footballer and since making him a regular starter he has been richly rewarded with a string of typically determined and resilient performances from Spurs’ summer recruit. The latest in this string of fine performances was his almost sacrificial performance against Spain at the weekend where he firmly set the standard for the rest of his team mates in an understated but ruthlessly effective performance.

It was clear in Saturday’s win that the likes of Rooney and Gerrard were missed in terms of their attacking spark and their ability to surge forward turning defence into clinical counter-attacking football, but under Capello’s apparent guidance to swamp the Spanish playmakers and prioritise defensive responsibilities Parker stood out as the figure-head of England’s defiance. If England are looking for a new Captain in the wake of John Terry’s latest flirtation with controversy, and I accept that that they probably aren’t, then they should look no further than ‘Super Scott’ whose handling of over-the-top fans expectations at Newcastle and West Ham was always respectful and dedicated.

Ferguson’s 25 Golden Moments from 25 years at United

As a United fan I am in awe of Sir Alex. What he has given to the football club is unbelievable and the job he has done over such a long period of time will surely never be matched by anyone in English football. If any criticism is to be aimed at United’s main man then maybe it could be argued that he hasn’t brought an enormous amount of European glory to the club. Given the length of time over which he has consistently guided United into European football’s premiere competition, the Champions League, he has by his own admission come up a little short. However, Ferguson has more than made up for the slight European disappointments with an enormous amount of domestic success in his tenure at the ‘Theatre of Dreams.


 

Over his 25 year period at the helm he has weighed in with 12 Premier League titles, 5 FA Cup wins, 4 League Cup successes, 10 Community Shields, 2 Champions League victories, 1 Super Cup, 1 Cup Winner’s Cup, 1 Intercontinental Cup and 1 Fifa Club World Cup win. For me this enormous amount of silverware marks him down as the greatest football manager of all time. Though I have only been in existence for 22 of his 25 years at United I have many special memories of his time in charge and below are my 25 golden memories of his reign (or at least those that I have been alive long enough to recall). The selected highlights aren’t necessarily all about the great man himself but they have all happened in his time at the club and in truth probably wouldn’t ever have occurred if it weren’t for him. So United fans, sit back and enjoy…

1. That win against Forest and the consequent Cup run that ‘saved Fergie’s career’:

This was the season where Ferguson overcame his critics by overcoming an awful start to their league season with survival and a first piece of major silverware as manager of the club. The win over Nottingham Forest early in their run has gone on the record as the “win that saved Fergie’s career”. Though it has since been voiced that he was never in danger of the sack, few are convinced and this remains arguably the most important result of his career and United’s recent history.

2.Fergie’s first league win – The winners of the Inaugural Premier League title in 1992-1993:

The moment Sir Alex led United to the first Premier League title was the moment the world really sat up and took note of what could be about to unfold. No one would have imagined that he could still be at the club 20 years on having amassed a shedload of silverware, but it was clear that Ferguson was a man of enormous resilience and that he had a young squad capable of great things. The writing was now on the wall…

3.The Double Win 1993-1994:

Inspired by King Eric United followed up their first league win under Sir Alex with a their first League and Cup double under his guidance. On reflection, maybe this was the moment the world really sat up and took note of what Ferguson could achieve at the club.

4.Eric Cantona’s Kung-Fu kick:

Without a doubt this is one of the most memorable moments of Sir Alex’s period in charge. It is in fact one of the more remarkable things that I have ever witnessed on a football pitch and one more regularly seen on youtube as part of a shoddy recording of an Argentinian third division match. Though he undoubtedly shouldn’t have done what he did, it is a moment which added to the legend that is Cantona and in a sadistic sort of way just endears him further into the hearts of football fans over the world. There was always the slimmest of lines to cross between footballing genius and sheer insanity when it came to King Eric, and Sir Alex was always on watch to oversee plenty of both the former and the latter from one of the best players he has ever had the privilege of managing. 

5.Eric Cantona’s triumphant return from the Kung-Fu kick and the fireman’s pole celebration:

You can’t keep a good man down. One of Ferguson’s finest achievements as a manager was the management of the Cantona-debacle. Sir Alex stuck with his star man through his suspension from the game and was rewarded with the glorious moment that Cantona returned to score against bitter-rivals Liverpool, prompting his infamous ‘fireman’s pole’ celebration.

6.The Golden Generation (The Neville’s, Butt, Scholes, Beckham and Giggs…):

Almost all gone, but certainly not forgotten. The ultimate proof of Sir Alex’s brilliant youth development skills and of the value of producing a consistent line of young talent rather than always investing heavily in the transfer market.

7.”You can’t win anything with kids” Part I:

Hang your head in shame Alan Hansen… Having written off United’s chances of success with this infamous quote, the former Liverpool player and Scotland International was left feeling rather smug when Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle were flying high at the top of the table come Christmas. However, Fergie’s written off young-guns found their very best form in the new year and charged to the title in arguably the most exciting season in the history of the Premier League. The fierce rivalry between the two managers was epitomised by Keegan’s infamous on-air rant directed at Ferguson on Sky Sports where he yelled “I would love it if we beat them!” in rather maniacal fashion.

8.”You can’t win anything with kids” Part II: The FA Cup

Again… Alan Hansen hang your head son… For a man that is usually so brilliantly insightful in his punditry this was a rare moment of blindness, but what a moment of blindness! As well as humiliating Hansen with their Premier League recovery, they also compounded his misery by making it a double with an FA Cup final win over his beloved Liverpool. The moment that King Eric retreated in the penalty area late on against our fierce rivals to fire home a magnificent scissor kick was right up there with my favourite moments as a United fan and I imagine it ranks pretty highly in Ferguson’s favourite career moments as well.

9.Beckham’s 60 Yarder:

This was the moment where the star in waiting burst onto the scene with an outrageous exhibition of his ability, lobbing Neil Sullivan with a pinpoint drive from inside his own half. Sullivan was hardly a mile out of his goal, but such was the accuracy of the attempt it might even have troubled him had he been rooted to his goal-line. The confidence and vision exhibited by Beckham in this magic moment was typical of the confidence and technical ability of Ferguson’s golden generation emerging from the academy at this time. 

10.Roy Keane’s night of sacrifice:

Cometh the hour cometh the man. This game epitomised everything that was brilliant about Roy Keane and everything that has been brilliant about the many United sides led by Ferguson. In one of the biggest challenges of Ferguson’s era they had to go to Turin and win but things initially seemed to be going awfully. 2-0 down to the Italian giants and skipper Keane booked and suspended from the final, their backs were well and truly against the wall but Roy Keane was on a mission and he inspired his side to one of the most glorious evenings of Sir Alex’s managerial career. With this brilliant performance he also inspired one of the most famous pieces of commentary of the modern era of English football; “FULL STEAM AHEAD BARCELONA!”.

11.Winning the Champion’s League against Bayern:

“Can Manchester United Score?… They always score”, “Giggs with the shot….SHEEERRRRIIINGGGGHHHAAAAMMM!”, “AND SOLSKJAER HAS WON IT!!!”. Three famous moments of commentary that sum up the best couple of minutes of Sir Alex’s managerial career. That night in Barcelona was agony from the very start, but ultimately ecstasy won out and Ferguson was a Champions League winner for the first time. 

12.Winning the Treble:

Couple this first Champions League triumph with success in the FA Cup and winning the Premier League and you get Ferguson’s finest hour as a manager. Inspired by his golden generation of youth academy products and a couple of his best ever signings, he had managed to win all three of the most prestigious pieces of silverware available in one fell swoop. This was the greatest year to be a United supporter, hands down.

13.Yorke and Cole:

Probably more a personal favourite than one of the real highlights of his tenure, but Ferguson’s decision to bring Yorke to the club worked an absolute treat. Some questioned the move initially given Yorke’s lack of experience at the pinnacle of European football, but the partnership forged by him and Andy Cole fired Manchester United all the way to their treble winning success. It became as enjoyable to watch their clear friendship as it was to see them banging it in the net time and again.

14.The Comeback:

It is hard to believe now that Ferguson was meant to retire a long, long time ago but that really was the case. Perish the thought! What would we have done without the old codger?

The Signings….

15.Signing Roy Keane:

Ferguson had been monitoring the progress of Nottingham Forest’s fiery young Irish midfielder closely for some time and knew from the moment he signed him that he could be the man to lead his golden generation. As it turned out his decision to sign him was utterly vindicated and once upon a time Ferguson went as far as to say he was “the best player [he] ever managed”. Quite the compliment…

16.Signing Eric Cantona:

In his time he has made some controversial signings and Cantona was right up there with the best of them. Big talent coupled with an even bigger personality is often a concoction set for disaster but Ferguson knew exactly what he was taking on and made him one of the best players ever to wear the red shirt.

17.Signing Cristiano Ronaldo:

The decision to let Beckham join Real Madrid in 2003 rocked the club, but little did they know the spaghetti-haired Ronaldo would go on to surpass to individual achievements of their former poster-boy. Impressed by his showing in a friendly against United, Ferguson was hot on the heels of Ronaldo II with immediate effect and landed his man shortly after parting company with Becks. Not only had United lost one of their all-time greats that summer but they had also come agonisingly close to landing the world’s best player in waiting Ronaldinho. Had they not landed the world’s best player in waiting-in waiting then this summer could have been a mini crisis, as it turns out though Sir Alex had pulled off yet another masterstroke.

18.Signing Wayne Rooney:

From the moment he curled the ball sweetly around the best efforts of David Seaman in the Arsenal goal as a teenager he was set for stardom. The only thing left unclear in the world of Rooney at this time was which club he would become a star at, but Ferguson worked his magic and landed his man, the rest as they say is history.

The Rivalries….

19.Fergie Vs. Mourinho:

Enormous respect for each other on and off the field. One of Fergie’s greatest managerial rivals and in private very close ‘friends’, I hesitate with the use of ‘friends’ as you sense that really they have been in too direct a competition to establish a real friendship, but they certainly appreciate each other’s talents and achievements to the maximum. As stubborn as each other, as controversial as each other and in a scaled down sort of way as successful as each other. It all made for a brilliant rivalry which could potentially manifest itself in the form of Mourinho returning to English football as Ferguson’s successor.

20.Fergie Vs. Wenger:

Probably the greatest rivalry of Fergie’s managerial career and like the men involved it has matured greatly with time. Once upon a time Wenger was the new-boy striving to emulate Ferguson’s achievements and every now and then he has looked capable of doing so. Though he hasn’t quite matched the master, they are now both too old, wise, and frankly in awe of each other to quibble too publicly. Having said that, they are still partial to the odd war of words and a spot of the old mind games.

21.The Bust-Ups:

Jaap Stam, David Beckham, Roy Keane, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, the BBC, Kevin Keegan, Arsene Wenger, Carlos Tevez, and Rafael Benitez to name a few… he sure knows how to pick ’em doesn’t he! He simply wouldn’t be the Sir Alex we know, love and in some cases hate if weren’t for his high profile bust-ups.

22.7-1 win over Roma:

This may not have been the most significant result of Ferguson’s tenure, but to come back from losing the first leg of a Champions League quarter final and win the second leg by such a remarkable margin was incredible. It was one of those brilliant evenings at Old Trafford which went right from the word go, the passing was super-slick and the finishing clinical. One of Ferguson’s less celebrated signings Michael Carrick had the best game of his career and played a major part in many of the goals including two fantastic strikes himself. Alan Smith’s magnificent team goal that night spoke volumes about the counter attacking genius of Ferguson’s sides through the years and is probably one of the finest goals scored by one of his United lineups.

23.Winning the Champions League against Chelsea:

Ferguson’s second triumph was more about his brilliant young signings than it was about youth products but it was hardly any less satisfying. After almost a decade without European success United were back at the summit of European football courtesy of a penalty shootout success against modern-era title rivals Chelsea. Inspired by the likes of Rooney, Ronaldo and Tevez this was a United side full to the brim with attacking quality and though it did take a shootout, this was a side that played their football the right way and they had also overcome the threat of a Barcelona side on the edge of greatness. This was an outstanding achievement and Sir Alex himself would tell you that this was right up there with his greatest successes as he has always regretted what he regards as a lack of European glory.

24.Holding on to Rooney:

Just about as good an exhibition in man-management as you will ever see from a football manager. Ill-advised, disillusioned and ashamed of himself, Wayne Rooney was on a crash-course with Sir Alex and the upper-echelons of United’s hierarchy which seemed certain to result in him leaving the club. Rarely has Ferguson seemed so defeated as the day Rooney told him he wanted to leave the club, but somehow he managed to work wonders and keep his star man. No one knows just how he did it, but hats off nonetheless.

25.The renewed United-City rivalry:

Maybe this a golden moment still waiting to happen really, but the prospect of City and United battling it out as England’s big-two with Ferguson still at the helm is mouth-watering. Though nothing would hurt Sir Alex more than falling narrowly short of City in a title race, nothing would satisfy him more than narrowly edging them in a title race. Let the renewed rivalry commence…

 

What an awesome 25 years it has been then. No matter whether you like him or not, I think it is fair to assume that everyone respects his longevity in the game and the achievements which have enabled him to stick around for so long at United. Just as a final little ode to the great man, below is my United XI from Ferguson’s era:

 

My Ferguson First XI:

Schmeichel, Neville, Pallister, Ferdinand, Irwin, Beckham, Scholes, Keane, Giggs, Ronaldo, Cantona