Some Advice for Sir Alex Ferguson

Patrick JohnstonCorrespondent IApril 8, 2009

SOUTHAMPTON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 04:  Sir Alex Ferguson manager of Manchester United looks on prior to the FA Cup Sponsored by E.on 3rd Round  match between Southampton and Manchester United at St Mary's Stadium on January 4, 2009 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)

Anyone claiming to know more about the game than Man United’s iconic Sir Alex will be on the losing side of most, if not all, arguments. 


Trust me when I say I have no delusions of grandeur when it comes to matching my knowledge of the game with that of Mr. Ferguson. 


But a little advice may be in order for him to stabilize his staggering side at the moment. Since Liverpool came to Old Trafford and spanked the Red Devils, his team has not been the same. 


Losing at Craven Cottage and the last-minute heroics to beat Aston Villa (a side Liverpool thrashed 5-1 in Villa’s last match, by the way), are indications of United’s deteriorating form.


But the clincher was the Champions League match with Porto.  The Portuguese league leaders came to Old Trafford and earned a much-deserved draw. 


They showed Sir Alex and crew that it takes more than reputation, odds makers, and past form to eliminate a hungry and unintimidated Porto side.


Therein rests my advice.


From here on in Man United is not allowed to read the papers or watch TV.  If necessary, sequester the side like a jury for an OJ Simpson trial. 


They need to approach the match not knowing what to expect and only then will they be mentally prepared. As oxymoronic as that sounds, it is clear logic.


United will be prepared, but they will not be overconfident because of the oldest anxiety known to mankind; the unknown.


All right, as much as the confinement is needed, it is not realistic.  But here are some things Sir Alex can do.


As much as I love Paul Scholes, he is not doing the business and he is not Ryan Giggs.  Scholsey’s form has not been worthy of the games I have seen him in recently. 


He needs to be used strictly as a sub or dare I say it, not at all until he can get past his current funk.


Each and every game must be treated like it is the only game, because in truth, one more bad result could spoil what is promising to be the greatest season by any side ever to play football.


True, there is a cushion in the premiership race, but the margin of error is slim with an in-form Liverpool side ready to leap frog the Red Devils at the next opportunity.


With the result at Old Trafford, Porto has seized the initiative on the Champions League tie and has made the return leg a one off for Sir Alex and his boys.  Man United has it all to do in this match.


The FA Cup is already a confirmed "do or die" setting and when Everton comes to Wembley, there is no doubt that Mr. Moyes and company will be prepared and hungry.


Sir Alex can no longer afford to look past the next game and must go into each game like a cup final.  The rotation policy (I concede that injuries have played a part) of the past few months is a luxury that United can no longer afford.


Tevez needs to be in every game.  Neville is not allowed to play in the center.  When Berbatov is fit play two or even three (with Rooney, Ronaldo or Tevez) up front.  Pray to the soccer gods to get Rio fit today (and some others for that matter). 


Giggs needs to figure more; his old(er) legs can handle the run in. And more than anyone, the talismanic Ronaldo must stop resting on his laurels and get back to what made him great, passion, not glory.


And finally, stop talking about emerging heroes, forget the past and get on with it!


While a few suggestions are not realistic (soccer gods and sequestering), there is much to ponder and adjust.


Sir Alex is on the short list of the greatest football minds ever, the very short list.  But every now and then even a genius could use a dose of common sense.