This has been a summer to reflect upon in the game of football/soccer, for many reasons, most notably the unusual amount of legends of the game retiring at the end of the season.
First on that list for most would be Sir Alex Ferguson and I am no different. His career will be remembered at the moment for his fiery behaviour, on and off the pitch, and for the insane success he brought to Manchester United. The minority have tried to see past all the praise and scrutinize his downfalls, e.g. his treatment of club legends such as Roy Keane, David Beckham and others. But to focus in on those moments, you have to look at the bigger picture (which sounds contradicting but just try it).
Think about the 1999 treble team, and the 2008 double team. Note the different changes and also the players that remained. Take the midfield. Beckham, Keane, Scholes and Giggs was possibly the best midfield on paper and on the pitch in the modern era. Now we’ll take the transition down to an individual basis. Beckham and Keane gone, Scholes and Giggs still there. Now, had Keane, who had retired in 2006, and Beckham, who was on the books at LA Galaxy by that time, stayed until 2008, you could argue that they wouldn’t have been up to that standard anyways, but I don’t think it’s that simple. In 2003, Beckham got on the wrong side of Ferguson and was duly sold. Keane got on the wrong side of Ferguson in 2005, and that was the end of his United career. Scholes and Giggs never so obviously got on the wrong side of Ferguson, and they remained. The standard of the exiled in 2008 was probably a result of, rather than the reason they weren’t in that team. Therefore, it is plain to see, it’s Ferguson’s way or the highway. Not a flaw, or an asset, just the way it was, the way he was. To focus on this aspect, also, would be an injustice to Ferguson. While it might seem harsh on the individuals who made this career-ending mistake, would Manchester United fans prefer all the trophies won without them, or a midfield in their late 30’s? Because you can’t have both. And being a United fan, I can most definitely say I am happy to leave behind them behind us and continue to win trophies with the players that haven’t crossed Ferguson. So to finish my tribute to Ferguson, I ask that minority to please be a little more positive and see why he is the greatest manager of all time.
Beckham, Scholes, Petrov, Phil Neville, Carragher, Van Bommel and Heynckes have all left the game this summer. Barcelona’s reign has arguably ended, while Spain were comprehensively beaten by Brazil in the Confederations Cup final. While this might suggest the game has become completely different, I don’t think it really has. The transfer window is my argument and is what I’m clinging onto that’s left of the last era of football. The big names linked with the big clubs, where, until UEFA’s financial fairplay rule becomes of any importance, they will have the monopoly that money privileges them with. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern, Manchester United, and I’m going to add in Chelsea as well, despite their wealth only arriving in 2003. You know, if this money monopoly is all that’s left of the last era, maybe it’s best to encourage financial fairplay, David Moyes and all the others bringing the next act onto the global stage that is the beautiful game.