Friday, September 29, 2006

The clock ticks for Fergie, Glazer and Tony Blair...

Sir Alex recently stated that he'd had a chat with United's owners, the Glazer family, and that they'd agreed he'd be staying on until at least the end of next season. This isn't a situation that all United fans agree with. Fergie has done wonderful things for United, no one will ever forget that, and yes, we will be forever grateful.

However, some United fans and me included, would like to see Fergie leave sooner rather than later. The reason for this, isn't anything to do with a lack of loyalty. Quite simply, Fergie has nothing left to prove, it is time to go.

I suppose it's a bit like Tony Blair scenario. The prime minister had previously talked about staying on for a good chunk of Labour's term in office, that all changed as Blair has been effectively evicted from office by his own party members and supporters, ironically, I don't agree here at all.

Unlike Blair, Fergie is safe as long as United look like qualifying for next seasons Champions League and barring a disaster of Titanic proportions, it looks like United will progress into this seasons knockout stage of the same competition. United's best chance of winning some silverware this season is in the domestic cup competitions, because they aren't capable of mounting a serious title challenge, the squad lacks quality strength in depth.

As far as Fergie's potential replacements go. I have three names on my short list. Martin O'Neil, Mark Hughes and Alan Curbishley. The latter recently hinted that he'd be to ready to return to English football at a leading club in October. Quite who Curbishley is thinking of is open to speculation. It could be cash strapped Leeds United, it would seem unlikely that it would be United.

Hughes is doing a solid job at Blackburn 'there's no question about that' as Fergie would say. He knows United inside out and has an air of authority about him. You can imagine the players having total respect for him and of course Blackburn took all six points off United last season - you'd have hoped that wasn't lost on the Glazer family...don't hold your breath.

Then there's Martin O'Neil, if it wasn't for the fact that he's at Villa he'd be the favourite. Like Mark Hughes, Martin's teams aren't renowned for playing attacking cavalier football of which United fans have been used to. Winning the title when managing Celtic is hardly big news is it? It is the bare minimum expected of any half decent Celtic manager. Who will ever forget Celtic legend Billy McNeil aka Cesar, relegating Manchester City and Aston Villa in the same season, then returning to Parkhead to win the Scottish title. Set against this, it's quite hard to measure O'Neil's managerial career to date. I view his time in Scotland as the wilderness years. It doesn't compare to what Fergie did while at Aberdeen where he broke the domination of Scotland's big two. That was a real achievement.

Whoever eventually replaces Fergie will soon realise that the fans won't accept negative pragmatic football at United. What United need now is a younger hungrier manager, the three candidates named are arguably the best that the British game has to offer.

I don't see any equivalent of Dr John Reid emerging from the pack, but unlike Tony Blair, as of this moment we have no replacement in waiting.

Perhaps United should have gone for Hiddink last summer, he was my choice. One man who I suspect wont be getting the job is Fergie's assistant, Carlos Queiroz. It is understood that Roy Keane and other players weren't happy with his dull tactics and his influence around the club, this it's thought this in part led to Keane's bust-up and departure from United. Again though, it will come down to the Glazer family, do they have their finger on pulse, and could they go for the cheapest option in promoting Queiroz, to save money not having to pay another club compensation?

It's a great pity that when Fergie does eventually go, he wont be taking the Glazer's with him, they are of course a much bigger problem than Fergie. Those in the media who have recently supported the Glazer family should remember that this summer United were the Premiership's lowest net spenders in the summer transfer window.

United have also been penny pinching by sending out as many players on loan as possible, take Rossi going on loan to Newcastle. This at a time when United only have Saha and Smith, both players have suffered terrible injury problems of late, set against this it seems odd to loan out Rossi.

As far as many clued-up reds are concerned, the clock is ticking for Fergie, and for United, with Glazer having recently shifted the bulk of his debt from the Glazer family and onto United. And so even when Fergie goes, we know the problems wont be solved, far from it.

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