Thursday, November 20, 2008

AhcumfiGovan! - Donwendyagain

So reads a plaque on the desk of Sir Alex Ferguson. It is a stark reminder, if one were needed, of the working class Glaswegian roots of the greatest manager to grace the British game. While Sir Alex may have travelled far from those tough beginnings and now enjoys the finer things in life, on the 50th anniversary of the signing of his first professional football contract, he is still driven by a perpetual motion work ethic and a burning desire to succeed. This desire has often seen him at odds with officials, the FA, opponents the media and even his own players.

Many look at him now and dismiss his achievements on the grounds that he has immense financial might at his disposal and it is this that has brought the success. While it is true that United are a financial behemoth these days many forget that Sir Alex was, allegedly, 90 minutes from the sack in 1990 when a young lad named Mark Robins, remember him, plundered a priceless winner at Forest in the Cup. During those dark days when he was at his lowest ebb he was always the first to arrive and the last to leave Old Trafford or the Cliff. Steadily things got better and with the help of a phenomenal group of youngsters and some astute transfer deals he forged a dynasty of success.

He has often said that he does not want to suffer the same fate as his mentor, the late great Jock Stein, but is difficult to envisage him laying down the Old Trafford reins voluntarily. At the beginning of the 2001-2002 season he prematurely announced he would be retiring at the end of the season only to have a change of heart later in February. He announced then that he would serve at least another 3 years. That was 6 years ago and there are no immediate signs that he is thinking of retiring although he does tease the press from time to time.

And why would he? The current United squad is one of the best ever seen at the club with a heady mixture of tantalising young talent like Ronaldo, Rooney, Tevez, Nani, Anderson, Rafael and battle hardened veterans like Ferdinand, Berbatov & Vidic. He can also call on the wizened old stagers Giggs, Neville & Scholes who have been with him most of the way. With one double already under their collective belts Sir Alex must go to bed at night dreaming of just how good this current crop can become.

Of course the day is steadily approaching when United will have to find their way without the stewardship of their greatest general, a day all United fans dare not think about. But there is plenty of life in the old dog yet and perhaps another treble is not beyond his reach yet. What a fitting finale that would be for the working class boy fi Govan!


greengrass said...

Ta, Don!
I didn't know about that plaque, but it surely says something about the man. So Lord Wrigley is not only kind and magnanimous, but humble too.
A lovely bloke!

coward'sshieldofanonymity said...


It's hard to comment positively on a positive piece about SAF...I'm trying, but I can't. Please consider my lack of bile a compliment.

I have a feeling we'll see a counterpoint piece here (or at the other place) soon.

By the way, the sentence after mentioning Jock Stein's passing was perhaps not the ideal place for the phrase "change of heart".

MotM said...

Change Govan to Georgia and players to generals and one or two other things, and Ferguson could be Stalin. Like the Georgian, Ferguson is undoubtedly a good man to have on your side and has ruled effectively and won a few big battles, but what a grudge-bearing, hypocritical, bullying monster.

offsideintahiti said...

Right, I won't cower under the shield of anonimity, I'll tell you straight: Your labelling BtP's piece "dull and predictable" is staggering.

You pick, as a subject, probably the greatest character in activity in British football, you leave us with the immortal words "there is life in the old dog yet" and you have the cheek to call the other guy's piece dull? Man...

mac millings said...


Offie has a point, I'm afraid, Don. Any piece about Ferguson needs to have more needle, even if you admire him.

As for "dull and predictable", in my house, there is a Chinese pirated copy of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", and where the DVD cover usually has review quotes like "Movie of the Year!", this one says "Predictable and dull".

offsideintahiti said...


just to clarify: it's not your piece I have a problem with. I wouldn't have criticised it straight off the bat (any complaints about cricket terminology creeping into my writing must be addressed to Zeph).

Throwing your written work into the public arena is not easy, it takes guts, especially in a forum where quite a few people write for a living or for whom, at least, words are their stock-in-trade. So fair play to you, and thanks for submitting.

I just feel that, in this place at least, criticism is perfectly acceptable but only if it is fair, argued, and CONSTRUCTIVE. Dismissing another writer's work as "dull and predictable" in such an offhanded way is a bit cheap.

donwendyagain said...

Thanks for the comments guys. Offie, it is a puff piece, nothing more and nothing less. Quite what relevance my comments on someone else's work has to my piece I dont know.

Labelling BTP's piece as dull and predictable is not staggering as I thought the piece was dull and predictable. It also has a ridiculous premise i.e. Zidane is Clint Eastwood to Ronaldo's Lee Van Cleef. However, it is abundantly clear that they are both Eli Wallach.

You dont like my piece, thats fine. You don't like my opinion on BTP's piece, that is fine too, but please try to keep your self righteous indignation to yourself, eh?

MOTM, SAF is a football manager with several undesirable traits but then again who doesnt have a few undesirable traits? Hitler was a monster, Stalin was a monster, Pol Pot was a monster. Try getting some perspective please.

donwendyagain said...

offie, looks like we posted at the same time. If I think a piece is dull and predictable should I not say so? I have lost count of the negative Ronaldo pieces which look to his theatrics for justification of the condemnation.

How many Italian or Spanish or South American players pout and preeen when thngs arent going their way? Yet it appears that Ronaldo is the only one who gets repeatedly called on it. Hence the predictable comment. To then elect Zidane the epitome of all that is good in the game?

offsideintahiti said...

Wendy, see my clarification above.

And don't think it's anything personal because I was teasing you in your previous thread here. I'm sure you would be capable of having a reasonable conversation if it had nothing to do with Manchester United.

Incidentally, where you and BtP are both wrong, is that you seem to think it is acceptable to mention CRonaldo and Zidane in the same sentence, or even the same article.

offsideintahiti said...

If we keep posting simultaneously, we'll never get anywhere.

My main point is that criticism should be constructive. Yours was not.

Your move.

donwendyagain said...

offie, we dont know each other so how could it be personal?

I think you will find that it is indeed your self who is incapable of managing a reasonable conversation when United is the topic. I am always reasonable on the subject.

offsideintahiti said...

Just because you know someone only through their writing doesn't mean you don't know them at all. But yes, the view could be distorted.

For example, you couldn't be more wrong about me: I am incapable of managing a reasonable conversation when Zidane is the subject.

donwendyagain said...

So what you are saying is that I should have elaborated on why I found it dull and predictable? Ok, just added that, happy now?

donwendyagain said...

'I am incapable of managing a reasonable conversation when Zidane is the subject.'

That was self evident.

offsideintahiti said...

The difference is that I am prepared to admit it.

donwendyagain said...

I have no problem having a reasonable conversation about Zidane, United or anything else you care to mention offie so there is no admission to be made on my part.

offsideintahiti said...

Then I am not worthy to bandy words with Your Unbiasedness.

Good night.

MotM said...

Don - My perspective is correct. From the perspective of political leaders, Stalin was a monster: from the perspective of football leaders, SAF is a monster. Both were successful, both have admirers, both got the best out of people (and there are plenty of other parallels). One shot those not up to the mark, the other hairdryered them.

That these traits are found in leaders sucessful in many spheres does not excuse them.

beyond the pale said...

Offie--Sorry to have kept you up so late, grateful for your good sense as always, but fear you may be wasting it on the lost cause of our self-confessed "puff piece"-writing fellow pseud (and why somebody'd want to bother writing an unpaid pseudonymous "puff piece" about a rich and successful Sir Anybody, who clearly doesn't need this sort of puffing, totally escapes my small, boring mind). My comment to Don would be to echo Maradona's post-game comment on Terry Butcher, not long after Butcher had--even as DM's daughter and grandchild lay in a Madrid hospital--told the assembled gawping Glaswegian press corps, for the nth time demonstrating true Scots charity, that he'd "never forgive Maradona": "Who's Terry Butcher?"

offsideintahiti said...

It wasn't late for me, I'm only going to bed now


Allout said...

OK guys, here's the score.

Offie - It's important that we respect people's right to give their opinions. Certainly I would rather people gave my work honest feedback, however harsh and brutal their comments may be, then it all becomes meaningless platitudes.

Don - This is a pleasant piece. However, writing a pleasant piece about one of the most divisive characters in modern British sport doesn't really work. It lacks punch IMHO - even Ferguson's detractors could agree with a lot you have written here.

Mouth - It is undeniable that Ferguson can be nasty and brutish but, unless you can produce evidence of him sending hundreds of thousands to Siberian gulags, it's best that we temper that comparison.

bluedaddy said...

Bit late to this, but I'll stick my oar in as usual.

Don, this piece is a summary of Fergie/Utd's achievements. Where's the meat ie what is it about Fergie that makes you admire him? Wouldn't it be far more interesting to look at an event or aspect of his career and examine that more deeply, perhaps offering an insight to explain his success. I offer you a starter for ten: how did Fergie let Jose Mourinho so easily charm him as he picked his pocket?

And sorry, but that's way too many links, even before we get on to their subject matter.

Saying that, it is good to see a bit of edge here. We 'know' each other pretty well and it's not always easy to be blunt. I welcome the new blood, who actually contribute pieces (hangs head in shame).

deepend greengrass in a fetching costume said...

I would like to applaud Don's and Offie's invention of a new sport: synchronised posting.

donwendyagain said...

Allout, thanks for your comments.

donwendyagain said...

Ok, the piece wasnt intended to be a startling insight to the man or to be a definitive guide to the man or to be anything other than what it is i.e. a gentle piece about a man reaching a milestone in his career.

Thank you all for your comments.

MotM said...

Allout - the comparison isn't literal, as I hope I have made clear. It tries, as metaphors do, to draw from one person or object or whatever, characteristics that apply to another, thereby making a point in a pleasing way (or clumsy way). But I'm sure you know that.

Anyone who has read cannot confuse a football manager with Stalin literally, but, equally, I defy any football fan to read that book and not see parallels with the background, drive and character of SAF.

Allout said...


Thanks for explaining the concept of a metaphor to me :-)

The problem is though that it's easy to make comparisons based on a couple of similarities but what does that mean at the end of the day if we take out all the rest?

Good, fiery debate guys and there should be place for that as well - as BD says we "know" each other pretty well but that shouldn't stop the odd bit of passion!

offsideintahiti said...


indeed, and no hard feelings at all. I think the general point I was trying to make is that although 99% of the contributors here came via the GU sportsblog, this here place functions on a different level and has none of the vindictive stuff that sometimes takes over on GU.

But I don't own the place, I don't make the rules and I welcome disagreements. Sharp and frank is good, blunt and aggressive, not so good. Juste mon opinion.

Oh,and greengrass, that costume is an affront to the senses.

MotM said...

Allout - You'll let me know if I start a metamorphasis into Humpty won't you?

offsideintahiti said...


wouldn't that be a metaphormosis?

donwendyagain said...

'You pick, as a subject, probably the greatest character in activity in British football, you leave us with the immortal words "there is life in the old dog yet" and you have the cheek to call the other guy's piece dull? Man...'

Blunt & aggressive or sharp & frank? What say you offie?

Smigger said...

Congratulations on making Sir Alex Ferguson sound as dull as a Middlesboro vs Bolton Carling Cup match.

MotM said...

Offie - It might be. I rather thought it was wrong but at 12.03am and with the cricket in Brisbane starting...

offsideintahiti said...

In terms of social manners, if I walk into the room, look you up and down and say, before we're even introduced, "that's one hell of an ugly outfit", what does it sound like?

In return, if I'm standing there in a pink lurex loincloth, should I feel aggrieved if I receive some sort of backlash regarding my fashion sense?

I'll concede two points: it depends what kind of party we're at, and maybe I'm being precious.

My comment addressed to you was in reaction to your comment adressed at BtP. As I said before, I would never have started with a negative comment like that one. That was a response. Can you see the difference?

I think people should be encouraged to write. At the risk of repeating myself, criticism is OK, helpful even, as long as it's constructive. At least I highlighted an example of why I thought your piece was bland: clich├ęs phrases.

Your comment on today's GU Big Blogger, which I quote here in its entirety:

"A & B stink the place up, my vote goes to C."

is a prime example of what I would qualify as blunt and aggressive, without a hint of anything constructive.

gattuso greengrass said...

I apologise if ayou are ataken aback by amy affront.

marcelaproust said...


I'd say that describing Wendy's blog personality or manner as 'blunt & aggressive' is being rather kind. 'Mean spirited & moronic' would be nearer the mark, I think, but then again, jealousy and insecurity can do that to people with weak personalities who are not over-burdened with an over-capacity for original thought, so I suppose he's not to blame. Bless.

I agree with everyone's comments about about this piece. I wouldn't say that it 'stinks the place out' because, well ... although I can be spikey, thankfully, I'm not donwendyagain. For which I am truly thankful.

donwendyagain said...

Offie, your first comment on my piece was blunt and aggressive or 'sharp & frank' if you prefer, so why is it ok for you to post in such a manner but not ok for me to do so? BTW, what exactly is constructive about;

'Right, I won't cower under the shield of anonimity, I'll tell you straight: Your labelling BtP's piece "dull and predictable" is staggering.

You pick, as a subject, probably the greatest character in activity in British football, you leave us with the immortal words "there is life in the old dog yet" and you have the cheek to call the other guy's piece dull? Man...'

It is clearly a comment on my piece and an aggressive and blunt one at that so your holier than thou stance is bullshit.

Ms Proust, thank you for your kind comments which were in no way mean spirited or moronic. We have talked about your psychological projection before on the GU blog but it would appear that you have either not sought help or the treatment is not being effective. Bless.

offsideintahiti said...


congratulations on your selection. I didn't vote, as a matter of principle, but I enjoyed it.


love the new accent, and thanks for lending me your suit to make a point with. I suppose we all have different ideas of what is fetching. Yes, you can have it back now.


my answer to your last is in my previous.

donwendyagain said...

offie, you see a distinction where none exists.

Tweet it, digg it