21 Years On, Ferguson is Still Bitter About The Last Champions – by Rob Atkinson


The Last Champions

The Last Champions

The 1991-92 Football League Championship title was an historic accolade, marking the end of a very long era.  From the next season, a breakaway elite would compete for “the FA Premier League”, with a Sky TV deal bankrolling the game at top level, new rules ensuring that income and wealth would trickle upwards to feather the nests of the better-off instead of down to nourish the grassroots of the game.  The increased pool of money would lure foreign players to dive into it, in hitherto unprecedented numbers.  Wealth and commercial interests, foreign syndication and new markets, these were the factors that would influence the game from now on.  The traditional purity of competition on a level playing field would henceforth be a thing of the past.  The winners of the 1992 League Title would be, in a very real sense, the Last Champions.

How inevitable it was, then, that we would hear more and more of the usual suspects throughout TV land and the media as a whole, ruminating on the place in history up for grabs, donning their red-tinted spectacles, taking out an onion and dreaming, wistful and misty-eyed of how “fitting” it would be if the mighty Man U could take the prize.  There was even talk of the title coming “home” to the Theatre of Hollow Myths – home, mark you, to a club that had never won the Championship in the era of colour television, whose finest hours were recorded on grainy monochrome fuzzycam as the Pride of Devon were overtaken by thoroughbreds such as Liverpool, Leeds United, Arsenal and Nottingham Forest.  Against all sense and logic, the feeble of mind, the hacks, the sentimental hypocrites all ached for the last real title to go to Man U.  How bitterly disappointed they all were when Leeds United callously, magnificently pooped their party.

Bitterness is not an emotion to show in public in the first few stinging moments of disappointment in defeat.  So it was that Alex Ferguson, freshly beaten at Anfield to confirm Leeds as Champions by an eventual 4 points, gritted his teeth and declared that Leeds were indeed worthy victors.  Suffering as he was from the nightmare combination of losing to Liverpool and thereby surrendering the Title to Leeds – a scenario dredged from the very bowels of the average Man U fan’s own private hell – such a seemingly magnanimous verdict was reckoned to Ferguson’s credit.  This magnanimity, though, did not last long.  In a book published that summer, Ferguson backtracked: “Leeds didn’t win the title, we threw it away.”  This was the real Fergie starkly exposed, glisteningly visceral, a man who would always look for some hidden, unfair reason why his team would lose; one who could never credit the opposition for winning fair and square.  An early layer of the notorious Ferguson paranoia and bile-ridden self-righteousness was laid that summer of ’92.

mini fergie

Small Man, Small Book

Now, freshly retired and free of even the minor constraints that kept him relatively quiet – give or take the odd casual back-stabbing – when he was Man U manager, Ferguson feels able and willing to dish the dirt on all those horrible people who annoyed him during his rant-laden and tyrannical career.  One such target is Leeds United; he has neither forgotten nor forgiven those last champions of the game as we knew it.  In his latest autobiography – one would never be enough for a serial egomaniac like Ferguson – he labels the Leeds United team of 1992 as “one of the most average teams to win the title”.  It is not clear whether he counts the Man U team of last year, champions by default as all of their rivals self-destructed, among that “average” number, but then it wouldn’t be in his nature to make any such concession.

The fact of the matter is that the Leeds United champion team of the early nineties found the game changing around them at precisely the wrong time.  The new back-pass law unsettled a previously effective defence, the expensive arrival of David Rocastle was surplus to the best midfield four in the land and the loss of the marauding Sterland deprived them of much quality overlapping service from the right, fatally damaging their chances of mounting a defence of their title.  But the victorious 1991-92 campaign saw that group at their best, putting on sparkling displays at Villa Park (4-1 winners) and Hillsborough (6-1 winners against a Sheffield Wednesday side that finished third).

Much is made of Man U’s disastrous run-in, as if this had never happened to challengers before.  But again, Leeds had their own late-season wobble, losing at Oldham, Man City and QPR as well as dropping valuable home points to Villa and West Ham.  Just as it could have panned out closer than the eventual four point gap between Leeds and the runners-up – so that gap could easily have been much greater.  The proof of the pudding was in the final league table which saw Leeds with most wins, fewest defeats and a decisive four point margin.  That legendary chestnut “the league table doesn’t lie” carried much more weight in those egalitarian days than it does now when the Premier League table usually resembles more of a financial assets sheet.

The inescapable conclusion to all this is that the outcome of the 1991-92 Title race – that historic, landmark Championship struggle – still rankles bitterly with the elderly Glaswegian, and every now and then he feels the overpowering need to spit out that sour, ashen taste of defeat.  It was the title he obviously wanted to win above all others – the iconic Football League Championship, unattainable to Man U for a quarter of a century.  Instead, he had to settle for a succession of more plastic baubles, won on a skewed playing field with ever-present controversies over offside goals, penalties dived for, opposition penalties not given, opposition goals disallowed from a  foot over the line.  Ferguson was denied the real thing, and the ones he won are tainted by the feeling that Man U were media darlings with refs in their pockets and a plastic army of glory-hunting fans in armchairs everywhere.  No wonder the poor old man is bitter.

With all due respect to Ferguson – which quite frankly isn’t very much – his latest “tell-all” book has to be taken with an almighty pinch of salt.  It’s a litany of whinges about the people he feels have slighted him, personal attacks on those from whom he demanded loyalty but refused to repay in the same coin, wild swipes at figures respected by everyone in the game except the increasingly empurpled Fergie himself.  It’s a mish-mash of hatred, resentment, revisionism, self-justification and bitterness.  And like his laughable, transparently bitter and envious attack on the Last Champions – it’s something more to be pitied than, for instance, derided as a load of old bollocks – so there I shall leave it.  History, meanwhile, will always remember Wilko’s Warriors as worthy winners of the historic, final Championship of the old-style, much-loved and missed Football League.

Advertisements

30 responses to “21 Years On, Ferguson is Still Bitter About The Last Champions – by Rob Atkinson

  1. White Rhinos

    Ha! Well I never, only just dawned on me (after staring me in the face all these years), for all Ferg’s trailer full of gongs, Mr Wilkinson has one that is forever beyond his murky reach : A proper title!
    I bet even those from Man City,Liverpool, Derby, Forrest, Villa et al would doth their caps and concur with the claim made in the title of this piece?

    Like

  2. viola jones

    God purnish u

    Like

  3. 1991,the last remnants of when football was football. Still it is the old quiz question which team won the league title and then remained unbeaten in that league for over 3 years? Super leeds of course (we lost to Gillingham I believe).

    Like

    • Not quite sure how that works Jim, but eager to learn! Our next Football League game after winning the Title was Norwich at home the week after which we won 1-0. The one after that was the opening league game of 2004-5 which was Derby at home which we won. Then it was Gills away which we lost – is that the one you mean? That would be an unbeaten FL record of some 12 years and 4 months or thereabouts 🙂

      Like

      • Sorry yes twelve years not 3 doh! must read my own posts. Was at the Norwich match which was a bit ordinary except for rod Wallace’s fab goal and two crazy looking old blokes in the kop in yellow white and blue face paint (yes one was me)

        Like

  4. Colin Menzies

    Man U Scum – Forever in the shadow of Leeds and Liverpool……

    Like

  5. Stephen Furlong

    Obviously a charmless book from a charmless man. As a 72 year old who has followed Leeds United since schooldays I shall keep my money in my pocket!

    Like

  6. Peter harrison

    This rant is ludicrous to any but supporters of your hopelessly underachieving team for a generation. Comment on your own league and opposition – Bournemouth for example – by all means but a rant against the best manager ever from Leeds is inapt and inept! On eyed and green eyed harking back to the good old days of yore. Concentrate on getting back up there – borrowing Will Keanu would help no end!

    Like

  7. tom darksen

    vitriol and bile a Fergie trait.

    Like

  8. Neil Sheard

    You have to admit if it wasn’t for Sky TV football the Premiership would be fucked and I would never have heard all the bitterness that Ferguson appears to have towards former players like Beckham and Keane. Gold old Sky keep the Premier pot boiling till it eats itself. As for Ferguson he still cannot ignore little old LUFC.

    Like

  9. Bye bye purple nose , off ya pop

    Like

  10. I DO hope that no one on the right side of the pennines bought that book. It’s been amusing watching the whisky nosed twat whoring himself around the media hawking his miserable memoirs(like he needs the loot). Funny how such a staunch socialist should single handedly destroy the working mans game with obscene amounts of money spent on wages and transfer fees. Long before Mourhino et al took things to the extreme ferguson was forking out 12m for yorke 7m for cole etc. The last championship was earnt, Arsenal aside,the subsequent premier league titles were purchased.

    Like

    • Spot on Mick. For a socialist, and a filthy rich one at that, he does seem curiously grasping. Then again he’s a Scot, and I understand copper wire was invented by accident when two of those tight buggers fought over a penny – or so the story goes. Anyway, I understand that for anyone wanting a signed copy of the latest Meisterwerk, the price goes up to a cool £170. Not very Keir Hardy that, is it?

      Like

    • Superb Mick, & a wonderfully written piece Rob. Fergie’s lost a lot of credibility with this book. Your comments re his supposed socialist beliefs are absolutely spot on. The last true champions, & lowly league one victors at his theatre of dreams’, will stay with him until he drops. MOT

      Like

  11. Peter Hill

    Actually. I would have been extremely annoyed if we hadn’t had a vitriolic mention in ‘Ole Bacon Face’s standard self-serving rubbish. I remember his first book, where he described Gordon Strachan in less than favourable terms, typical of the man, hang on to any slight for a decade or two, then embroider it a bit and bring it out in a memoir, which, as far as I am concerned shows himself up for what he really is, a bitter old tyrant who cannot bear to be disobeyed. Thank God he never took the England job, he would have deliberately tried to destroy our national team.
    One thing though, we may ‘not be famous anymore’, but we are still remembered!

    Like

  12. As the kids in my house would say , LOL. the penny joke tickled me !!!

    Like

  13. And another thing,ha ha. It’s the jargon associated with fergusons man u that makes me want to vomit too. Words and phrases like-brand, franchise,theatre of dreams? Who thought that one up? Also the fact that they go on these far eastern tours not to take premier league football to the poor and impoverished, but to enhance the “brand” or open another “franchise” selling overpriced junk back to the people who probably made it in the first place.(up the workers eh fergie) If i remember rightly they even had a different home shirt for european games too,sheer twattery. They probably still pull that cynical stunt too although i wouldn’t know. Just like the x factor the mere mention of their name makes me reach for the remote to avoid nausea.

    Like

  14. The main difference between Leeds and Man United that year is how they performed against the other teams in the top 6 to 8. Leeds beat Arsenal, Liverpool, Forest and Sheffield Wednesday and took atleast 4 points (unbeaten) from each team. Man united never beat any of them, infact they lost at least once to all four.. That is the mark of Champions.

    Like

  15. Ah, 1992, when football was about pride and determination for the 3 points every week unlike today’s ‘stars’ who just play a little bit and receive a huge wage packet at the end of the week and that’s their job done. Nowadays it’d be impossible for a team to come straight up from Division 2 and win Division 1 straight after unless it was an English version of AS Monaco.

    We all dream if the team if ’92, the team of ’92…

    Like

  16. To jack, only Leeds can come out of the championships and win the prem ,THATS us thanks Roy for a great read MANY thanks PORKY M

    Like

  17. I think that we should lay off the old bastard! Lets be fair, he has been brilliant for Man U. A really good manager, one of the best in the world, ever. So, he is miserable, he doesn’t like Leeds United and he has made a lot of enemies, but, he was still a genius in football terms. He was sometimes very lucky, Bayern! And at other times the teams he had were top rate. Good bye to the old git, he will be missed! Do you realise that we will never be able to put a team out against him again and bathe in the luxury of the competition and goading that would inevitably take place. Please, please, let him have his last say about our great club! The only difference between Leeds United and Manchester United over the past 10 years has been the financial mismanagement of our club, otherwise he would have lost even more titles! Take that Sir Alex!

    Like

  18. alex the red nose pisshead

    Like

  19. What utter rubbish from bitter Fergie ! Leeds were never out of the top 2 positions from October 1991, right up to becoming Champions, with 1 game to spare.
    Leeds did not steal the League Championship, Leeds won it by 4 points, were unbeaten at home all season and only suffered 4 defeats all season.
    The Leeds team was not average or lucky, they were a hard working unit that played productive football, which produced some fantastic goals and winning results on a consistent basis.
    Half of that Man Utd team were bottlers and has-beens from the “flash and average” Atkinson era.
    You can’t win the League Championship over 42 or 38 games and be classed as average or lucky. Only bad and bitter losers make those pathetic statements.

    Like

  20. Hi Rob,
    I followed a link to your blog from a ‘post’ in forum thread about Ferguson’s book.

    In your parlance, I am from the ‘wrong’ side of the Pennines but certainly no Man Utd supporter.
    Many thanks for writing this blog; one of the best and most amusing pieces I’ve read for ages. Some of the subsequent ‘comments’ scale new heights of ‘hilarious vitriol’.

    One of the ‘threads’ on the aforementioned football forum was discussing how ‘half-time entertainment’ could be spiced-up. I may well suggest that the stadium announcer at the ‘Theatre Of Dreams’ should read out your ‘blog’ (and subsequent comments) during the interval ; just as a little light relief you understand!

    Now that would be something!

    Like

  21. For someone who claims he doesn’t care for Liverpool, he then devotes a whole chapter on us! Still getting under his skin…….love it!! Now, Taggart, go away and take your hypocrisy, contradictions, multiple faces, lack of morals/loyalty, bitterness and jealous, crawl into your whiskey jar and wither away.

    Like

Leave a Reply - Publication at Site owner's Discretion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s