God-like Fergie the only thing keep­ing Man Utd afloat

Midweek Sport - - NEWS -

Here we are, the dawn of an­other football sea­son. And with that comes the same old ques­tions: Who’ll win the league? Who’ll go down? And when the f*** is Alex Fer­gu­son go­ing to re­tire?

You might ar­gue that as Man United ONLY fin­ished as run­ner­sup to cham­pi­ons Man City that this last ques­tion is less im­por­tant than it has been in the past.

But, frankly, you’d be kid­ding your­self.

De­spite the Glaz­ers piss­ing away money, and an in­creas­ingly av­er­age-look­ing squad (for United), the Red Devils re­main a football su­per­power.

And the rea­son for that is auld pur­ple nose. He is the glue that holds the club to­gether – a god­like fig­ure that will be nigh on im­pos­si­ble to re­place.

United WILL be in the top three and that’s solely down to Fer­gu­son.

But let’s be bru­tally hon­est – he can’t go on for­ever. Fergie’s a 70-year-old grandad with a pacemaker. Re­cently he had to go to hospi­tal with a nose­bleed that couldn’t be stopped. It might feel like it at times, but the fella’s not bombproof.

Re­tire­ment is on the cards, it has been for some time. But when he does de­cide to hang up his stop­watch it will be a flash, bang, wal­lop mo­ment. There’ll be no build-up, no count­down – just the news that most United fans dread and most ri­val fans dream of. erhaps the Glaz­ers know this and that’s why they’re try­ing to float shares on the New York Stock Mar­ket.

Re­plac­ing the Scot will be a night­mare for United. There’s no ob­vi­ous suc­ces­sor – cer­tainly no-one who could adopt the king-like role Fer­gu­son has carved out for him­self in 26 years at Old Traf­ford.

A new man would al­ways be com­pared to Fer­gu­son. They are big, big shoes to fill.

Even the mer­est sniff that he’s eye­ing the pipe and slip­pers will cre­ate prob­lems for United.

In 2002 he an­nounced he was re­tir­ing only to watch in hor­ror as his team im­ploded. He won’t make the same mis­take again. He’ll just do it this time.

In Fe­bru­ary Fer­gu­son said: “I’ll know when it’s time, when I’m not en­joy­ing it.”

De­spite the pub­lic stance, how

Pmuch can Fergie be en­joy­ing it at United right now?

Since the Glaz­ers came to town, United haven’t been a big hit­ter in the trans­fer mar­ket.

In the mean­time, Chelsea, Man City and the Span­ish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona have spent money like a lottery win­ner on death row. t surely can’t be too much longer now be­fore Fergie fi­nally calls time on a jaw-drop­ping era of tro­phy-win­ning that has in­cluded 12 Premier League ti­tles, two Euro­pean Cups, five FA Cups and four League Cups.

When last quizzed on how the club was pre­par­ing to re­place him, the Scot said: “We’ve never dis­cussed it. It’s a dan­ger­ous game.”

Equally dan­ger­ous is bury­ing your head in the sand and pre­tend­ing it’s never go­ing to hap­pen.

The ti­tle of a group on Face­book says it all: “The awk­ward mo­ment Alex Fer­gu­son re­tires and United end up a mid-ta­ble club.”

Among the many chal­lenges fac­ing United right now, mak­ing sure that doesn’t hap­pen should be pri­or­ity No.1.

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