Monday, 30 January 2012

Speed Inquest: Statement from wife Louise

The League Manager's Association have just issued this statement from the Inquest into the tragic death of Gary Speed.

Gary’s death and the manner of it, made Sunday 27th November 2011 the worst day of our lives. Throughout the nine weeks since, there have been some very dark moments, which we have all had to find our own different ways to endure.

Now, we have to adapt to the future without a husband, a father, a brother and a son; but Gary’s memory shines brightly in our thoughts and we will forever remember the wonderful times we shared with him and the deep love and affection he offered so freely within our close knit family.

Thankfully, out of tragedy some good often emerges, and we feel blessed to have such true friends who are helping each of us come to terms with the circumstances of our bereavement. Gary’s funeral was an occasion of great sadness and grief for everyone concerned but it was also a day where we were able to say farewell to him in our own personal and private way.

At this time we wish to reiterate our deep appreciation for the very generous and clearly sincere accolades paid to Gary and his memory by the public and all forms of the media. We remain especially grateful for the sympathetic way that the media has respected the family’s privacy.

The help and encouragement we have received from so many special individuals and organisations leading up to today’s inquest has been truly breathtaking and we must recognise publicly some of those concerned. The thoughtful way we have been treated by the Cheshire constabulary, which has been represented here today by Detective Inspector Peter Lawless. The considerate way today’s hearing has been conducted by HM Coroner Mr Nicholas Rheinburg. The practical help given in abundance by Melissa Chappell, whose support and friendship has been so much more to us than simply Gary’s professional agent. The invaluable life-line provided by the League Managers Association which has been there for us throughout. We are immensely thankful to all of you and greatly appreciate what you have done for us.

Finally, our thanks go to the FA of Wales which has arranged the Gary Speed Memorial Match against Costa Rica at the Cardiff City Stadium on Wednesday 29th February. This will give everyone whose lives were touched and enriched by Gary’s achievements the opportunity to attend, celebrate his life and pay their final respects. We look forward to seeing you there

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Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Can Mourinho's stock remain high long enough to win battle of succession at United?

Alex Ferguson in 1986
Since Sir Alex Ferguson announced "three more years" just before the shock defeat to Blackburn, the spotlight on succession at Old Trafford has intensified. The three-nil defeat at Newcastle doesn't help Fergie either.

Fergie cites good health and vigour for staying on. He's just turned 70 having completed a quarter-century at Old Trafford in November. Winning is a great tonic and he does seem in rude health.

But just as the England job is dubbed a poisoned chalice, United is whatever the opposite of that is: a refreshing glass of water on a summer's day perhaps -  it's an urgent requirement for those with wildblood..

O'Neill at Sunderland: contender for United job.
Of the two perennial frontrunners, one's sharpened his credentials just by taking a high profile job in the Premier League; the other jokingly referred to a return to a big stage in England in two years, made days before Fergie's seemingly unprompted remark.

I talk of course of Martin O'Neill and Jose Mourinho. O'Neill, whose sheer force of intellect and personality light up wherever he goes, would be a Sunderland hero with Europa League qualification or a trophy. The Roker Roar's been on mute since they left Roker.

Mourinho is the itinerant winning machine. So portable and successful in England, Italy and now Spain at the world's most glamorous club stage. His Midas touch is so powerful, he even got an assist in Andre Villas-Boas' big chance at Chelsea just by being young Portuguese and winning at Porto in similar fashion.

As with Inter, Mourinho's got to wrestle with the best Barcelona of all-time, but as in Italy where Milan and Juventus were beaten off, who'd back against the Portugeezer?

The Special Two
United must learn from their own history though. They've attempted to replace the irreplaceable before. When Sir Matt Busby left, United scrambled round for the right man, a decision at which they repeatedly failed, ending in tearful relegation.

So how to replace the greatest club manager of all time? well, it's got to be someone who consigns United's immediate regime to the past while continually winning at the same pace. A contradiction in terms surely not lost on the Old Trafford ownership. 

Chin up. Mourinho's eyeing Old Trafford
But in reality, it's no different to the way Fergie runs United now. He enjoys the win for a couple of days, then sets the clock back to zero ready to conquer again.
And in both leading candidates, they have the capacity to create distracting tabloid headlines to focus on the hype of the present and ensure the past is the inspiration not the millstone.

Yes, there's other candidates I've not mentioned here: David Moyes, Josep Guardiola, even Eric Cantona's name gets chucked in occasionally, but why look further when there are two outstanding candidates with the all-round CV?

If Mourinho can maintain his reputation as the Special One, I take him to replace Ferguson when the Govanator calls time as Old Trafford's ultimate keeper of the temple.

With that stand named after Sir Alex and squad problems, will the opportunity come faster than the Special One thought?