Roy Keane has been doing his attack dog impression on Sir Alex Ferguson again. Two fascinating characters to take a look at.
I’m sure Sir Alex isn’t perfect. I’m sure he couldn’t have been so successful without a cold ruthless streak. But having been ensconced in my own Gothenburg bubble the last couple of months (the free Gothenburg 83 book here) I’ve found myself thinking on that achievement. From one of the stories I learned that Ferguson saw the St Clair off at Aberdeen Harbour. This was new to me. Got me thinking how clever that was. 500 supporters travelling to a game on a 27 hour journey, that was going to be one mighty bonded unit when it arrived in Gothenburg. A solid block of the support, that would be so important for the game. Why not increase that bonding, hype it to the maximum, to show they were part of the team, before they left. See them off.
As most people are aware he and McGhee meet them back at the harbour. Why did he do that? There was no 24 hour media then. It was nothing more than a local news story at the time. His reputation was made well before Gothenburg as one of the most highly sought managers in the UK. Gothenburg had just become the cherry on the cake, that would in the opinion of Hugh McIlvanney (admittedly his friend) mark him down as the greatest ever British football manager, for that achievement alone. Ferguson was already a god to those on the St Clair, could those on the St Clair returning victorious to Aberdeen Harbour have loved him anymore than they already did?
But he did it. With nothing to gain. Thanking those supporters personally for their help on that momentous occasion. Doing nice things for people without seeking anything in return, surely that is a mark of a good person.
Keane now, is a beaut to analyse. One of his favourites for attacking Ferguson is on being asked who was the best manager he had during his career. He answers Brian Clough, very smugly. Ferguson signed him from Forrest. What the far less intelligent than he thinks Keane does there without realising, is remind everyone he was managed by two of the greatest football managers ever, and yet, the would be football manager, learned precisely fuck all. He has some charisma, he was a brilliant footballer, but ultimately, he’s an idiot.
From the video, he tries to criticise Ferguson’s man-management, in respect to how Keane felt he was treated at the end of his time at Utd. Singularly unaware even to this day, the expert in man-management was managing the team he had for the next game, the next few months, hence the necessity of having to remove the rotten apple who was causing trouble for team spirit while the team wasn’t performing well. Football teams go in cycles, a new one was being put together.
‘But I had done much worse’. Yes they had humoured you while you were a great player and the team was successful with you in it, you daft, self-entitled prick.
There is a real fight going on inside Roy Keane. And I suspect some of his other former players who went into management. The self belief that Ferguson encouraged and developed, that winning mentality that was fostered, that never giving up, never lying down, always fighting to the last, created some less than nice personality traits.
Gary Neville the peacemaker, a seemingly balanced and self aware individual, and I’d say a fair bit more intelligent than any of the others on that stage, still had that self belief to think he could be successful in Spain, in La Liga, without having managed before, or learned the language.
In fact it could be said the self belief Ferguson drilled into his players was similar to what (tax-free status) Eton drills into their pupils. Whereby a low functioning, sociopath with an upper-class accent, a tiny amount of charisma, and no work ethic or talent can see it as his god given right to be Prime Minister. Unlike Eton, the self belief that Ferguson got into his players led to developing great footballers and great football teams, again and again.
Keane is still playing for Ferguson in his head, still fighting the battles that never really existed. Someone needs to try switching him off, then on again.
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