Butler: Fergie's shadow looms as large as ever

Noel Butler
10/4/2013 11:50:02 PM
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For an individual who managed, controlled, manipulated, banned [including the BBC] and in some cases outright bullied members of the media - after months of radio silence, Sir Alex Ferguson has finally lifted the lid.

Not of course the half measures type, Ferguson did so in the same type of dramatic style as like his team displayed in the closing minutes when winning the 1999 Champions League final at the Nou Camp.

His wide ranging chat with Charlie Rose in the week likely caused a ripple effect on NYSE ticker symbol MANU.

The timing could not have been better for the Chosen 1, David Moyes.

His media prey brilliantly distracted and diverted by the person who told him in early May he would be the next Manchester United manager.

Told Moyes? Not so much even an interview then. Head hunted Fergie style. Using the front of inviting Moyes round to the house for a late afternoon cup of tea it was. 

However, such relief away from the immense spotlight is always very temporary as Moyes will learn throughout his Old Trafford tenure.

Having already suffered the three BPL defeats this early on in the season, although highly improbable, another defeat in Saturday's lunch time game at Sunderland and the word 'Beleaguered' will attach itself like an anchor to Moyes.

Mid table mediocrity is not what was in the plans. Nor the budget where a Champions League place is mandatory.

It would likely spill over into Ferguson's planned tour to promote his Autobiography which is scheduled for release October 24.

Then just like the Spice Girls in their prime, right after his tome is released the Knight of the Realm goes on a short sold out tour of England, Scotland and Ireland.

You couldn't invent this stuff even if you were Simon Fuller. Sorry Mr. Cowell.

The precursor to all this was Ferguson's fireside chat with Charlie Rose. Fergie positioning the brand impeccably with the US Academic set.

 As well briefed as Rose always is with his subjects Ferguson fully aware such disclosures like Roman's 2003 approach would have lit a fire even under the most roll over belly tickling media types back in Manchester or London. Rose didn't even bat 1 of those famous eyelids to what is a pulse racing type disclosure.

Too bad when Fergie came over all Kentucky Derby sophisticated Rose don't hit him with the twin force that is John Magnier and JP McManus.

Old horse racing partners of Sir Alex - the three had an almighty fall out of all things the breeding rights of a thoroughbred Rock of Gibraltar. Who wouldn't in his prime look out of place at those immaculately manicured Churchill Downs lawns.

In 2004, John Magnier and JP McManus were the largest shareholders of Manchester United. Such was the seething anger resulting from the horse nonsense they were reported to be willing accomplices to    block attempts to extend Ferguson's contract for any duration longer than 12 months.

Ultimately, Magnier and McManus settled out of court with Ferguson regarding the horse, and sold their combined quarter stake in Manchester United to Malcolm Glazer.

Staying with the betting theme - with well-regarded UK bookmakers now doing a tidy business offering odds Ferguson would return to management Ferguson disclosed to Rose, 'You would be throwing your money down the drain if you put any money on me coming back as a manager'.

Adding, 'I made my decision. The timing was perfect. There is no way back for me now. I've got a new life.' The timing for Sir tied to Lady Ferguson's loss late last year of her sister.

Ferguson's academic self was a central tenet and main theme of the Rose chat, the Rooney and Beckham references mere fodder for the red top tabloids of Manchester and London.

We know now Fergie's bucket list includes a trip to the Masters and a desire to visit Tuscany vineyards.

Wonder if that type of discussions ever came up with the Mike Riley's and Graham Polls of the world during those world famous Old Trafford touchline chats. Hair dryers not required.

The first wind I got of Ferguson's non-football self was in a disclosure by Italy's 2006 World Cup winning manager, Marcello Lippi who revealed he and Ferguson were extremely close friends.

Nothing revealing there, apart from the fact when Sir Alex and Lippi conversed it wasn't in Gruff Glaswegian but French. Fergie the connoisseur.

For all the silverware Ferguson collected, his immense abilities to rebuild, reinvent winning dynasties – the legacy he leaves behind does not though include any empirical evidence which would back up his theory Manchester United under Moyes will be successful. Something he explicitly stated to Rose.

Get as adamant as you want, but this Sir Alex is completely out of even your immense control.

Ferguson's old sparring partners Arsene and José alongside others like AVB and Pellegrini will have a far larger say.

When he bolted the Manchester United stable rather abruptly that crop of players Ferguson left behind, many of whom by their performances so far this season certainly appear past their sell by dates, also possess individually and collectively a large say. Until their shipping out is completed at least.

Then the Euro stage, where by no means did Manchester United under Ferguson light it up in a manner even close to their domestic selves - Pep, Carlito, Jurgen and Bruno plus numerous others are light years ahead of Ferguson's Chosen 1.

Moreover, if the Moyes-Woodwood summer transfer window embarrassment coupled with United's current annus horribilis season to date, is any indication then we may well be in for an extended winter of Manchester United discontent.

You can reach and follow Noel Butler at:

TSN & TEAM Radio is your BPL home for Double Header Saturday this season. Kicks Off with Tottenham Vs West Ham, pre-game at 9:30am et/6:30am pt. Followed by Sunderland vs. Manchester United at 12:30pm et/9:30am pt.

Noel Butler

Noel Butler

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


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