Alex Ferguson: school-yard spats
Too many people have made the mistake of saying that Alex Ferguson engages in mind games. They are wrong. Ferguson merely engages in school-yard spats. He usually wins because the people against whom he is spatting think they are playing mind games, and they go by different rules.
The latest man to fall into the conversation pit with Ferguson is Alan Pardew, the Newcastle United manager, who took offence at the Manchester United manager’s behaviour when the two club’s met on Boxing Day at Old Trafford. Pardew expressed surprise that the Football Association chose not to charge Ferguson.
It did not take long for Ferguson to hit back:
“Alan Pardew has come out and criticised me," he said. "He is the worst at haranguing referees. He shoves them and makes a joke of it. How he can criticize me is unbelievable. He forgets the help I gave him, by the way. I was demonstrative but I was not out of order. The press have had a field day. The only person they have not spoken to is Barack Obama because he is busy. It is unfortunate but I am the manager of the most famous club in the world. Not Newcastle, a wee club in the north-east.
“I was demonstrative. I am always demonstrative. Everyone knows that. I am an emotional guy. But I was not abusive. I shouted Mike over. We walked towards each other. I was only on [the pitch] three or four yards. That has been overplayed. The problem for me is that the profile of this club is huge.”
Ferguson’s views are misconceived on many counts. First, Newcastle United is not a “wee club in the north-east”. Second, it is debatable that United are the “most famous club in the world”. Third, it seems rather odd to talk about “the help I gave him”, as if that should be enough for Pardew to keep his mouth shut. Oh, and Obama was not busy. He was on holiday in Hawaii.
Ferguson is good for the press. They love him because he seems incapable of uttering a dull sentence. But he is in danger of becoming a bore. He has been a novelty for three decades but the time will come when people will stop listening.