n will ride into the sunset
achiever to t. He must elevance of iveness of
Valencia the young anny Wel- family, that confederation of geeks who have hobbled a prudently run club with £700million of debt, are both unwilling and unable to sanction the kind of stunning coup which might turn the tide. Instead, he lives with the sobering consequences of the loss of Ronaldo, unwillingly sold and savagely missed.
And all this time, the competition are spending money without care of consequence. Roman Abramovich shrugs off Chelsea’s mountainous annual debts and invests £710m, while Sheik Mansour at Manchester City casually accepts last year’s loss of £92.6m while lifting his investment to £395m. It is the kind of spending which Michel Platini and Arsene Wenger have correctly categorised as “financial doping”, yet it is entirely ac- ceptable in the free-market casino of the Premier League.
Despite managing the biggest football club in the world, Ferguson is unable to compete with such extravagance. So he carries on doing what he does best – identifying, enhancing and deploying talent – knowing the financial realities have changed utterly.
His most distinctive achievement has been the way in which he has come to terms with the developing demands of his job. Recently, he spoke of how he now delegated many of the tasks he used to carry out personally.
“There must be about 40 people who report to me now, quite separate from the players,” he smiled. “It’s a big staff, more than Marks and Spencer.”
And he admitted: “It would be impossible to work in the same way I did in 1986.”
I suspect that he retains a secret yearning for those less complicated days, when his players shared his banter, feared his wrath and believed Old Trafford was the only place to play. And nobody yearned for the Bernabeu or Nou Camp, and certainly nobody was tempted by that place down the road, where they worshipped false gods and wore light blue shirts.
Ferguson has moved through the generations with style and flair. For all his flaws, he has left an enduring mark upon the game he loves. And if he were asked about his retirement plans, his answer would be a colourful version of “It’s a load of nonsense”.
But one day, he will go. The most gifted manager we have known will decide that his reputation is secure, his legacy is assured and that the time has come to pass the torch. Alex Ferguson has earned the right to name that day. I suspect it will arrive sooner than later. – Daily Mail