Friday, 18 September 2009

Fergie's News Conferences are sometimes better than the game itself!

I try to keep a football appointment every Friday lunchtime with Sir Alex Ferguson's pre-match news conference. I'm glued for his weighty growls born of weary experience, his gossipy views on other clubs and managers none of which are his goddamn business - and a gem of a quote from his industrial gob: Made In Govan!

Despite his many years in the spotlight, he's often riled by the assembled hackery.

The touchy subject of Real Madrid's unending pursuit of Cristiano Ronaldo had Fergie spitting, "I wouldn't sell Madrid a virus, let alone Ronaldo!" But the Govanator eventually did - and Real paid full retail price for the Portuguese. The sort of amount that even Sir Philip Green would've put a cigar on for.

Other times, he's a master of the room. A few years back there was a ridiculous tabloid flyer in The Mirror alleging that Fergie was part of a consortium ready to takeover Manchester City.

Next day, he faced the media to preview a Champions League game. Someone dared ask him about it. In response, he neither issued a denial or any kind of quote worthy of taking the story on. He snapped back to the wee hack:

"Whassat gottae do with this? we're here to preview this game ... !", silence.

A Fergie denial of any kind would've been printable as a follow-up but he's too canny for that. The story disappeared without trace the very next day - and his handling of it in that moment was the reason why.

A few seasons ago, I was at Charlton for a United game and Fergie came out of the tunnel ten minutes to kick-off and continued a casual conversation on the touchline with an old football friend while scores of photographers snapped away. But it was like it wasn't happening around him. He totally blanked it. A measure of his years in the cauldron and the inner steel which shows he never lets the pressure cloud his own principles.

Back in the Press Room, my favourite Fergie moment was ahead of a tough trip to Galatasaray, one of the most intimidating stadia in all of Europe. It was the first return to Istanbul since the acrimony of an Eric Cantona dismissal after the final whistle of a bad-tempered exchange. A thoroughly professional performance would be required this time to avoid similar ugly scenes.

So a question came from the floor, "Are you at all concerned to return here with your big name players to a place of such open hostility?"

Fergie's face was a picture. He replied, "Well, you've obviously never been to a wedding in Clydebank!"

I tell you, if it's been a good week for football stories then try and catch Fergie's Friday Football Fare. He'll always deliver something to make you chuckle, unwitting or otherwise.


  1. Unfortunately, I have to grudgingly agree that Fergie is a very remarkable man. He has achieved and proved everything possible in the game and repeatedly so. Yet he goes on and on, continually reinventing himself and his team. He never stops and continues to strive for perfection, the bastard.

  2. I really can’t help but admire the guy. Football has changed enormously in the time Sir Alex has been at Man Utd, but he seems to be unaffected by the money, the bullshit and the egos that inevitably surround him.
    He established some ground rules from the very start and they have remained in place throughout. The first thing he had to do when he took over way back in 1986 was stamp out the boozing culture that existed at the club. Sure, he had to make an example of a few players by moving them on, but the rest of the squad quite quickly understood the standards that were expected of them.
    He’s undoubtedly mellowed a lot in recent years, and I doubt the famous hairdryer comes out all that often these days. But perhaps it doesn’t need to. Every player that signs for the club knows what’s expected from day one, and players who don’t live up to his high standards are quickly moved on.
    I remember when speculation started that Wayne Rooney was about to sign for Man Utd. I told anyone who was prepared to listen that Sir Alex Ferguson was exactly what the kid needed. The Rooney of today is a fitter, much cleaner and fully developed player, who is happily married and handles himself well. Would we be saying the same if he’d joined another club, or would he have gone the same way as Gazza?
    I don’t always agree with Sir Alex- his refusal to speak to anyone from the BBC seems a tad harsh. Why punish a part-time sports reporter from BBC Radio Manchester for the errors of the Panorama team?
    He won’t get the recognition he deserves as a manager until after he retires. In a time when greed and excessive lifestyles are prevalent in our top clubs, Sir Alex has stuck by the same basic principles that have stood him in good stead throughout his managerial career.

  3. You noticed he always manages to say 'si'uation' in every interview he does? Other popular expressions include, 'There's no question about that', 'Deary me', 'I assure of that' and 'crikey'!


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