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Butler: Man Utd vs. QPR is more than a football match

Noel Butler
2/22/2013 12:42:26 PM
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Separated by the maximum 19 places in the league and a point difference that could be in excess of 50 come the final whistle doesn't come anywhere close to explaining the real story when on Saturday morning at Loftus Road the runaway leaders of the Barclays Premier League face the league's bottom place team.

The immense gulf in all facets both on and off the pitch renders the match between Queens Park Rangers and Manchester United as a David and Goliath encounter in the truest of senses.

Then we have the diametrically opposed records and personalities of the two managers. In the blue corner we have the BPL's original barrow boy, rent a quote himself King Harold of Redknapp.

The only man in the entire 150-year history of English football who in early 2012, talked his way out of the England manager's job whilst blissfully ignoring the facts - the not inconsiderable matter the name Harry Redknapp didn't even appear on the FA's candidates list.

We can't get into 'Arry's alleged wheeling and dealing. A few seasons back when at Spurs, Redknapp famously advised a TV reporter, "I ain't a wheeler dealer. I'm a [adjective removed] football manager."

Please though feel free to do some research into Redknapp's managerial career. See if the words any port in a storm make sense.

Where though do we start with the considerable football chap in the red corner? 

Sir Alex Ferguson's 26 plus years of service and still counting is without exception the grandest reign of any manager in the entire illustrious history of Manchester United Football Club.

Over his time the Glaswegian has built, rebuilt and just for fun built yet again the foundations of his team in house via the academy and underpinned all with shrewd investments in the transfer market.

RVP equals ROI of the highest grade.

Collecting trophies and building teams that have consistently competed at the highest level he seemingly does for a hobby. In doing so Ferguson has placed Manchester United at the plateau of the English football pile historically.

As a mark of this in Fall 2012 to recognize 25 years of loyal service the club unveiled the grandest of their stands in his honour.

However, the biggest headline coming out of OId Trafford this week was not connected to Ferguson's immense satisfaction at watching Manchester United's European professors been schooled by AC Milan.
Instead, it was the unexpected announcement club CEO David Gill had tendered his resignation, effective after season's end.

As the manager has presided over the most successful era in the club's history the very same can be said for the CEO off the pitch. Ferguson collects silverware, Gill gathers global revenue.

When David Gill was promoted to CEO in September 2003 revenue stood at just a shade over £169m ($255 million). By 2012, that figure had almost doubled as it closed in on half a billion.

That doesn't come close to telling Gill's entire legacy. Think of his political dexterity as he has ushered in the Glazer reign, one which has fiercely divided club from fan with Gill admirably attempting to fulfil the role of piggy in the middle.

Then there is his ability to juggle a portfolio of key boardroom positions on variety of high profile football entities both in England and on the continent. 

With Gill spearheading the initiative to list part of the club on the stock market - when finally last summer Manchester United listed 10 per cent of the outstanding share issue on NASDAQ the doom merchants predicted financial suicide.

So much for the financial experts opinion, ticker symbol MUFC is up over 50 per cent since the beginning of November.

Not many people say no to Sir Alex.

But David Gill did when the manager attempted to get him to change his mind. Although retaining his board position at Manchester United the resignation was required as Gill seeks a position on UEFA's executive committee. Look out, your days are numbered Michel.

On Saturday, Gill is likely to take his place in the QPR Directors box. His club sit in the comfortable position of been 12 points clear from their nearest but not so dearest neighbours in second spot.

With this wriggle room and thinking ahead to next Tuesday's crucial Champions League encounter with Real Madrid, the tie delicately poised, Ferguson is likely to rest a number of key personnel.

His counterpart has no wriggle room.

In fact, the gap from safety has increased since Redknapp added the name of Queen's Park Rangers to his portfolio late last fall. More concerning, the number of matches left to escape are vanishing before Redknapp's very own big bulging eyes.

Seven points to make up with only 12 matches left is a monumental challenge. Not only do QPR need to start winning games with immediate effect, they must also hope their fellow strugglers lose the plot.

As Redknapp focuses on the near impossible, Ferguson has laid down a significant marker to his players. Likely as a warning to heed the lessons learned from last spring's meltdown he has been very public in proclaiming this side is better than his class of '99.

The one that rattled off an unprecedented treble that was capped off with that magical and mystical May night in Barcelona and with the aid oftwo2 added time markers they ran out as European Champions.

Having formed over the years a very close partnership with Gill - Sir Alex Ferguson will certainly do all in his powers to ensure his CEO exists at the very top.

To do that, the two men will have to revisit the scene of the crime.

Specifically, Wembley Stadium where back in May 2011 Barcelona destroyed Manchester United in the Champions League Final.

With London getting set to host the showpiece event again on May 25 and if their club do go on to claim a fourth European Crown, don't expect the very humble Gill to put on his Manchester United kit, shin pads boots and all then jump on the pitch to go collect one of the grandest trophies in all of world sport.

You can reach and follow Noel Butler at:
Noel.Butler@BellMedia.ca
@TheSoccerNoel
 
Catch QPR vs. Manchester United live from Loftus Road airs across the TSN and TEAM Radio Networks this Saturday, with coverage kicking off at 9:30am et/6:30am pt.

Fulham v Stoke City Live on TSN2 - 7:30am et/4:30am pt.

Noel Butler

Noel Butler


Noel Butler is an analyst for TSN's soccer coverage and his blog can be read on TSN.ca. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/TheSoccerNoel and listen to his radio program oranges@halftime on TSN Radio 690 Montreal.

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