I’ve met Sir Alex Ferguson on a couple of occasions (well, been in his company) and I have to say it was a pleasant experience. Even if the Manchester United boss’s red-nosed jollity had been inspired at the time by a glass or six of vintage vino.
So why did I find it so pleasant to see his charges on the receiving end at Wembley at the weekend? It’s not that I’m a Barcelona fan—it’s just that I have no time for two-faced people. And I’m afraid Fergie is a classic example of a split personality.
You can’t argue with the Scottish super-boss’s record as a football manager. He has no peers in terms of success over more than two decades. What I find disgusting is that Mr McMighty has become bigger than Manchester United—and that those who employ him have allowed him to do as he likes.
The recent Old Trafford press conference in which he called for Associated Press reporter Rob Harris to be banned just for asking a question about Ryan Giggs received wide publicity. But it was nothing new. Over the years, Fergie has banned dozens of journalists who dared to write or say something he didn’t like.
And Sir Alex is vindictive with it, too. Not for him the "let bygones be bygones" approach. His ludicrous vendetta against the BBC has gone on for seven years now—fuelled by a Panorama programme which investigated the business activities of his son Jason, who was then a football agent.
A more recent example of his petulance was the recall of two players on loan from United when Preston North End sacked another Fergie son, Darren (pictured) as manager during the season that has just finished. The fact is that Sir Alex has become the victim of his own success.
He seems to be convinced that he is even closer to God than Jose Mourinho and the late Brian Clough. And the United board are entirely to blame for the situation. Quite simply, they lack the bottle to tell Ferguson ‘‘Either talk to the BBC along with the other broadcasting companies, or find yourself a new job.’’
OK, we all know what would happen. United would be looking for a new boss…and that is the problem.
Quite simply, the Old Trafford board are just as scared of him as the frightened media rabbits who bow and scrape to his every whim. They humble themselves in the eyes of the Mighty Dictator, which makes me suspect that few of those who cover United matches on a regular basis write exactly what they think.
And I find that very discomforting.