Alex Ferguson: The Once and Future King?

illya mclellan@illya mclellan @illbehaviorNZSenior Analyst IDecember 19, 2011

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 30:   Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson looks on during the Carling Cup Quarter Final match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on November 30, 2011 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Watching Manchester United take on Queens Park Rangers, it was easy to see why Sir Alex Ferguson is still the top dog amongst the English Premier League managers.

The old Knight has taken a few blows this season, but his team still has the strength and determination to see them past the challenge of the bulk of the opposition in the premier league.

The body blows he has taken this season, at one stage seemed to have some suggesting that his days as the undisputed First Knight of English football were coming to an end.

It was interesting to see him in the closing stages of his team's victory, at Loftus Road chewing his gum like a teenager on a sugar high.

He still gets a tremendous adrenaline rush out of beating opponents. He is able to, in the league at least, week-after-week put out the right combination of players to get the required result.

His slip up in the Champions league was to perhaps, trust the combinations of players that were not quite ready. He will be disappointed in himself that he made such an error in judgement in this regard. 

The team has managed to at times grind, and at times pirouette their way within two points of Roberto Mancini's Manchester City side. The Italian is very much still "The Man who would be King".

In Rudyard Kipling's famous short story of the same name, there is a moment where the principle player is trying to pass himself off as a King, and is revered by the native people who he is attempting to fool as a God. A weakness is noticed. The native priest exclaims, "He is not a God or a Devil, but a man!".

This moment has been seen in the EPL title race last round, when the seemingly invincible Manchester City team was defeated for the first time at Stamford Bridge by Chelsea.

Mancini and his team are human after all it seems.

Ferguson's United narrowed the gap at the top to only two points at that juncture. With another win this round they have kept the pressure on City.

They are making it clear to Manchester City and their manager that the title race is far from over, and that the wily old Knight is far from past his prime.

Ferguson has the record for league titles, though he has still not eclipsed Liverpool's proud statistic of being the most successful team in the European Cup/Champions League in England.

This is something that must drive him onward, and with his team crashing out of that competition this season, perhaps there is another reason right there. Why he will not call it a day after this season has passed.

His team has suffered injury blows that would have hindered a lesser manager terribly. Yet he always manages to unearth a player from somewhere, who is able to fill the breach.

Phil Jones, who signed from Blackburn at the beginning of this season. He has found not only a potential world class center back, but after recent performances, a potential world class center midfielder.

Jones and Michael Carrick were standouts in the win at QPR. The much maligned Carrick scoring only his second goal for United away from Old Trafford, and showing again why when he is fit, he is one of the first names that Ferguson puts on the United team sheet. 

Another who has reaffirmed his manager's faith is of course Wayne Rooney, who has again started to show the world why he is considered one of the best strikers on the planet.

Others have continued their development, Chris Smalling going from strength to strength and Patrice Evra as always is Mr Consistency.

The return of Javier Hernandez brings added firepower, the Mexican looking hungry for goals and not far off full fitness.

Ferguson is perhaps still "The Once and Future King", to use the title of another famous English story. Mancini, "The Man who would be King" will not be writing off the old Knight yet.


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