Tag Archives: Jose Mourinho

Leeds’ Bielsa to be Coach of the Year, But Derby’s Lampard Favourite for Whinger Award – by Rob Atkinson

Fwankie – look at his poor little FACE!!

Whatever might be said about the relative coaching merits of Frank Lampard and Marcelo Bielsa – and it hardly needs pointing out here that the rookie has been utterly owned by the Master twice this season – there do appear to be serious doubts about young Frank’s mental durability, for want of a more appropriate phrase, given his incessant and piteous whinging over what they’re glibly calling “Spygate”.

Sadly for Frank, many of the game’s more respected voices have been united in scorn at the bleating that has emanated from the Rams’ pen over the past few days. As a general rule, those with global reputations have dismissed Lampard’s complaints as ridiculous, while poor Frankie has had to make do with lesser authorities, woman-beater Stan Collymore for instance, in his corner.

There’s also the problem for an increasingly sullen and sulky Lampard that evidence is piling up to the effect that what Sky have attempted to portray as an earth-shattering scoop has actually happened with great regularity down the years. Two of these historical incidences of espionage and skullduggery involve Chelsea at a time when Lampard was a player there – the most bizarre case involving Jose Mourinho allegedly circumventing a stadium ban by means of concealment within a laundry hamper.

More relevant to Spygate is the admission of Andre Villas-Boas that he was regularly sent by Mourinho to opposition training grounds, often incognito, to suss out team news and tactics for the benefit of Jose’s match preparation. Get that, sent incognito to gather information – what more comprehensive description of spying could there possibly be? But Frank appears to be saying that his former coach Villas-Boas is a big fat liar; “I didn’t know about this and, anyway, it didn’t happen” seems to be the Lampard position.

It’s all most unseemly, and all Lampard appears to be gaining with his protracted whinging is a well-deserved reputation as a petulant ninny. And that’s hardly the kind of image you expect of the manager of a club in the muck and bullets Championship, even if it’s only Derby. But Frank seems intent on stamping his feet and complaining until somebody does something – and with the alleged offenders being perennial establishment targets Leeds United, I suppose that can’t be ruled out. But, in this blogger’s humble if not exactly disinterested opinion, all Lampard is achieving thus far is to cast himself as a petulant and childish fool.

This Championship season to date has been all about Bielsa; with a minimum of recruitment, he has transformed last year’s anonymous also-rans into stylish table toppers – as well as implementing a football ethos throughout the club that has seen both the Under 23s and Under 18s topping their respective leagues as well. If this carries on, it’ll be Marcelo first and the rest nowhere when it comes to Coach of the Year.

And Lampard? Well, we can probably close that book right now. With his desperately pitiful demeanour in defeat, and his sullen insistence on ridiculous excuses straight from the embroidered spy story pages of Girls’ Own, “Lamps” has no real rivals for the title of Whinger of the Season. So smile, Frankie lad – this is one trophy you’ll win easily, even at serial also-rans Derby County.

So Glad We Don’t Have a ‘Genius’ Like Mourinho at Leeds United  –   by Rob Atkinson

The not-so Special One

When you’ve seen your club at the very top of the game, as thousands of Leeds United fans (of a certain age) have – then you’re bound to aspire to regain those dizzy heights again. That’s only natural; but what would be the true cost to our club, in terms of its essential character and tradition? The answer to that might be fairly unpalatable. 

Everywhere you look in the Premier League, that rarefied sphere we yearn to inhabit, there are magicians, geniuses, world-class performers. That’s why it’s hyped as The Greatest Show On Earth. But the hype is just about the only thing that lives up to its billing as the biggest and the best. If hype alone could power a rocket, then the Premier League would be the first franchise on Mars. 

We have to ask ourselves at Leeds, where we have our own pride and our own fiercely partisan sense of identity – how many of these geniuses and magicians would we actually wish to see in a white shirt? Would we really want a Cristiano Ronaldo, for instance? Which Leeds fan would genuinely be happy to hear that that particular Ego Had Landed at Elland Road? Not me, that I do know.

If the price of Elite membership is to have to support players like Ronaldo, Yaya Toure (the crybaby birthday boy), Wayne Rooney and so on and so forth, then I’m by no means sure I’d wish to pay it. Give me a team of grafters with their feet on the ground, any day of the week. And who, pray, would we have to coach and manage such “stars”? If I may answer my own question with a negative once more, I’m dead certain that one person I wouldn’t want is the so-called Special One, Jose Mourinho himself.

Mourinho’s not had the best of weeks, losing a two goal lead at home to Swansea City and then getting hammered at Manchester City. In between times, he’s seen fit to treat club doctor Eva Carneiro most shabbily, as I’ve bemoaned here. So it’s been a bad few days for Jose, and he’s deserved every agonising second of it.

Here is a man, after all, who first came into the English game like a breath of fresh air, capturing the imaginations of fans throughout the game, endearing himself to those who, like me, enjoyed seeing Alex Ferguson taken down a peg or several. But, after a while, his arrogance began to grate more than a little. His self-awarded tag of ‘The Special One‘ lost its early appeal and took on a more ironically mocking aspect – not that Jose’s colossal ego was even slightly dented by that. Now, Mourinho appears to have become a distorted caricature of himself, a man more preoccupied with living up to his own self-image than by any need or desire to win admirers or friends along the way. His verdict on the second part of this week’s Tale of Two Cities? The 0-3 reverse in Manchester was “a fake result”. Honestly, I ask you. Here’s a man who has squandered his early impact on English football.

At one time, Mourinho might have been my ultimate dream as Boss at Elland Road. Now he’s one of those nightmares I know I could never countenance for the Leeds United I know and love. He’s put himself into a category of Untouchables, people I wouldn’t want my Whites to go anywhere near with the longest of barge poles. He’s right in the middle of that company of undesirables, along with the Rooneys and the Ronaldos, the Fergusons and the Sterlings. They’re the Too Big For Their Boots Brigade and they have no place at the kind of club I’d wish to support. 

It’s not that there haven’t been such undesirables in earlier eras – more that they seem so much thicker on the ground now than in days of yore. It’s the Premier League glitz and glamour, I suppose. This hollow arrogance, together with the sycophantic need on the media pack’s part to worship it, just sets my teeth on edge. Back in the day, I wouldn’t have wanted a George Best at Leeds, nor yet a Tommy Docherty. We mooted Maradona and we tried Cantona for size, but the former was just a Bill Fotherby pipe-dream and the latter didn’t really fit our club. We don’t really like massive egos at Elland Road – but show us a grounded grafter, and we’ll crawl over broken glass to follow him.

We’ve had our geniuses at Leeds, of course we have. But they’ve been a particular type of genius: John Charles, il Gigante Buono, Billy Bremner, side before self, Eddie the Last Waltz Gray, the incomparable Johnny Giles. And of course, the one and only, undisputed and undeniable Special One, Sir Don Revie. Modest geniuses, unassuming magicians. Special Ones in the Leeds United idiom. Give me a team and a manager like that to support, and I’d truly relish seeing my club back at the top again.

But, if modern day success means following the likes of Jose Mourinho or Cristiano Ronaldo – then I’d simply rather not bother, thanks all the same. 

Leeds Fan Opinion: Chelsea’s Slump Down To Fitness Problems   –   by Rob Atkinson

Mourinho: who’s a silly boy, then?

Chelsea, the runaway winners of the English Premier League just a few short months ago, have made an uncharacteristically poor start to the defence of their Title. Despite taking a two goal lead on the opening day against Swansea, the champions were pegged back and had to settle for a point in a 2-2 draw. Then, in the season’s first “Elite” game when they faced Manchester’s finest at the Etihad, the Blues really set in as Roman’s Pensioners subsided to a 0-3 hammering, putting them a sizeable five points behind the leaders with only two rounds of league competition played.

As a Leeds United fan, I could normally be expected to do no more than snigger quietly at the misfortunes of such an old rival. The enmity between the Whites and the Blues stretches clear back to the 60s, when Don Revie‘s Super Leeds were the very acme of gritty northern professionalism, whilst Chelsea represented the Soft South, all rag trade moguls and Z-list luvvies, a hymn to the effete spinelessness of the namby-pamby, over-pampered mummy’s boys of West London. Only the fearsome “Chopper” Harris and the skin-headed, thuggish primates of The Shed made Chelsea worth hating. For the rest, they were mainly there for the media to adore, and for us oop ‘ere in Yorkshire to have a good laugh at.

So why should I, a Leeds fan and proud of it, spend my valuable time pointing out the problems at Chelsea? And what makes me think that I can second-guess Jose Mourinho, coach extraordinaire, sex-symbol to the militant blue rinse brigade and a veritable legend in his own mind?

Well, silly as it might seem, Jose has been and gone and dropped the Portuguese equivalent of a right, proper clanger so far this season and, such being the nature of the man, he’s not going to see the error of his ways unless someone’s prepared to slap him (metaphorically) about the face with the irrefutable evidence of it. The mistake that Jose has made is fundamental, and it’s set fair to reduce the champions’ nascent season to rubble. Not that this would necessarily be a bad thing – but I would like to see the Blues back to something like their normal, imperious form by the time they’re called upon to demolish Manchester’s lesser club. So, there is method in my madness, as you can see. 

Mourinho’s tragic error is in the all-important area of fitness. If a football club is deficient in this respect, then all else falls into ruin. Fitness is to a football club what greed is to a bank or to a multinational corporation – neither entity can function without that one vital quality which is the mainspring of their entire operation.

Last season, fitness was not a problem for Chelsea FC. It was a quality clearly obvious even to the most unobservant eye; it leapt out of the TV screen every time a Chelsea player got a knock or went down injured. Fitness underpinned all of Chelsea’s endeavours, protecting them against injury and the effects of gruelling competition. Wherever the Blues played, there too was this unmistakable quality of fitness – as embodied by surely the fittest occupant of a Chelsea bench-coat it’s ever been my pleasure to behold.

Doctor, my heart...

Doctor, my heart…

Take a demure bow, Eva Carneiro, Chelsea club doctor and, beyond doubt, the most acceptable face of Chelsea there has ever, ever been. And yet the arrogant and deeply silly Jose (my wife will kill me for this) has found it necessary to remove her as a delectable match-day presence, thereby denying Chelsea’s valuable, thoroughbred playing staff the benefits of her inestimable professional expertise and – far more seriously – the rest of us the privilege of simpering helplessly over her international-class cuteness and beauty. It’s a sad loss to the game as a whole, to Chelsea in particular and to everyone out here in TV land who simply longs for a Blues player to get hurt, just for the chance of another glimpse of that exquisite pocket Venus of an MD.

In depriving Chelsea of any further manifestations of Eva, Jose Mourinho has reduced their overall fitness levels by at least 95% (on the empirical sexism scale) and – it seems clear – has demoralised and depressed, into the bargain, a playing staff that carried all before them only last season. And what clearer indication could there be that a clanger has indeed been dropped, than the occurrence of two simultaneous injuries during the City match – on Eva’s very first enforced night off? Honestly, I ask you. Those lads were clearly pining for her.

So if Mourinho wishes his club to emerge from this deep early slump, he should order forthwith a large slice of humble pie for himself, a large bouquet of flowers and a case of Adega de Borba Premium 2011 for the gorgeous Eva – and then he should do the only decent thing, admitting that even The Special One can get things spectacularly wrong, and humbly begging Dr. Carneiro to return, pretty please.

Jose - she's behind you...

Jose – she’s behind you…

And if, as I suspect, Mourinho finds it impossible to contemplate such an humiliating climbdown – even though he will know, deep down, that I am right – why, then, he should simply pack the good lady doctor off, with no hard feelings, to Elland Road – where she would be better appreciated by players, staff and especially by most of those fans possessing a Y chromosome. And most especially by this besotted fan, whose heart belongs to club and family, but who can yet raise considerably more than a cheer for the scrumptious Eva Carneiro.

Come to Leeds United, Eva, love. Sod Chelsea, they clearly don’t deserve you. Come to Elland Road, and make our injury stoppages a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Perhaps then I could go back to being utterly indifferent to the goings-on at Stamford Bridge – excepting always when I need the Blues to beat the even more loathsome reds, otherwise known in this parish as the Pride of Devon…

Chelsea Defeat Best Proof That Man U Miss the Fergie Fear Factor – by Rob Atkinson

Image

S’ralex in happier times

This year, just as in the past two seasons – but for a vastly different reason – the Chelsea v Man U fixture has provided a litmus indication of the influence Alex Ferguson has held over the game of football in England since the inception of the FA Premier League in 1992.  In the previous two meetings between the two clubs at Stamford Bridge, Ferguson was still very much in charge of Man U – and it showed.  This season’s clash found the Pride of Devon under new management – and, boy, did that ever show too.

Two years ago, it may be recalled, the game followed a pattern very similar to Sunday’s clash – up to a point.  Chelsea established a three-goal lead by early in the second half on both occasions, but from then on the games followed very different paths.  Back in February 2012, the brooding presence of Ferguson in the Man U dugout, together with the co-operative Howard Webb on the field, saw two penalties awarded to the away side as they swiftly reduced the arrears to a single goal.  By that point, Chelsea were reeling, their confidence shot through, and it was clearly only a matter of time before an equalising goal.  When it came, in the 85th minute, the build-up told its own damning tale.  The sight of a demoralised Chelsea defender, attempting to close down a left-wing cross as he backed away, hands studiously behind his back, clearly convinced that a third penalty would be awarded if the ball could be struck against any part of his arms, was symptomatic of a refereeing culture dominated by fear of what Fergie might do or say if his side were defeated.  It was like watching a boxer trying to avoid a knockout blow with his guard held down, a pitiful sight.  In the event, two dropped points meant the title would end up with Manchester City – but Howard Webb had done his bit, as he did so often for the benefit of Man U.

Last year’s game between these two at Stamford Bridge was even more indicative of where the power really resided.  This time, Man U had raced to an early two-goal lead and it appeared that no undue interference with events would be needed.  But two goals from Chelsea in four minutes either side of the interval restored parity – and suddenly the establishment’s favoured team were in danger of losing a game they had looked to have comfortably under control – and what would S’ralex say then, pray?

That thought was plainly too horrible to contemplate for the referee, Mark Clattenburg on this occasion.  His sending-off of Ivanovic for a foul on Young was reasonably clear-cut – but then Clattenburg made two decisions which demonstrated the influence of the Ferguson Fear Factor.  Firstly, an already-booked Torres was clear and racing through on goal when he went down under challenge from Jonny Evans.  If the foul were to be given, then Evans would have to go for a professional foul, and it would be ten-a-side.  Clearly, that would not do – so Clattenburg brilliantly decided that Torres had dived, issued him a second yellow and made the contest 9 v 11.  To cap a tremendously influential performance, he then allowed the clearly offside winner for Hernandez after 75 minutes, and Man U saw the game out against their demoralised opponents to bank the three points.

Both of these games stand as damning evidence of what former referee Graham Poll admitted recently – that when officiating in a Man U game, it was always a relief to get the match over with, ideally with Man U winning – and certainly NOT having made any crucial calls against them, for fear of what Ferguson might say or do in retaliation.  But for this year’s game, there was no Ferguson in the dugout – and the performance of the referee seemed suddenly free of those perceived pressures of the Fergie years.

It’s not as though Man U didn’t try to apply such pressure.  There were concerted efforts by their bench, with Moyes to the fore in his Fergie-Lite guise, to get David Luiz sent off instead of merely booked – to no avail.  Penalty shouts – an ever-present feature of any Man U game – likewise went unheeded, despite the presence of the usual diving suspects.  Chelsea, having eased into a three-goal lead despite a well below-par performance, never looked seriously troubled.  In contrast to the two previous years, they never seemed to have the slightest fear that the game might suddenly turn against them.  The referee even went so far as to dismiss Vidic and book Rafael for ugly challenges – decisions he probably got the wrong way around.

The late-ish Man U goal might have heralded a late onslaught in previous years, with the winning side suddenly assailed by fear and insecurity – but that was when Fergie was on the bench.  Now, with the impotent tyrant up in the stands, shaking his head glumly, there was no sign that the consolation goal would be anything but exactly that.  Man U had been beaten, despite early dominance of possession, despite a lacklustre showing by Chelsea.  It was their seventh defeat of the season, leaving them 14 points behind the leaders – or, more relevantly, a possible 7 points off Champions League qualification.  Tellingly, people have even begun to speculate as to their main rivals for a Europa League place.

It’s a new and unwelcome landscape for the ailing champions, and a lot of people are beginning to wake up to what all of this says, not only about their immediate prospects, but also of their record over the past twenty years, and to what degree that has been skewed by the ever more apparently crucial Fergie Fear Factor.  Thirteen titles in twenty years – how many would they have won without the dubious methods employed by the Govan Gob?  A virtually identical squad to last season’s runaway winners is now being revealed as the ordinary group that it is.  The myth of Man U is being ruthlessly exposed – and while nobody could argue that this is good for them, or for their globally spread cadre of fans, including the tiny minority that actually attend matches – it surely has to be good for the game that such an evidently dominant force for the swaying of authority and the warping of results has now departed the scene.

It would seem likely that history may not take quite such a rosy view of the Ferguson legacy as he would perhaps like – and the ironic fact is that this could perhaps come about not because of results under his leadership, but in the light of the pallid performance of virtually the same team, newly deprived of the advantages bestowed by the malign influence of S’ralex.  If that turns out to be the case, then we may all be taking a somewhat more realistic view of those so-called Ferguson Glory Years.

Happy Days Are Here Again – Bring On the New Season!

Good Riddance, Taggart

Good Riddance, Taggart

The best football season since the mid-eighties (apart from 1991-92, obviously) is almost upon us.  Despite the recession, austerity, bankers bonuses and the scandalous price of a pint, I’ve rarely felt so positive and optimistic about the immediate future.  Even the fact that Leeds United are crap, and will almost certainly remain crap despite the best efforts of poor old Brian McDermott, my outlook is one of sunny anticipation and excitement for the feast of football that awaits my tired and cynical old eyes.  And why?  I’ll tell you why. It’s because Fergie’s gone, that’s why.  Say it again and say it with relish.  Fergie.  Is. GONE.

Don’t get me wrong.  It wasn’t his annoying habit of winning things for the Mighty Man U that bothered me.  It wasn’t his oft-paraded bloody stop-watch held up as a mute instruction to the ref regarding time-keeping.  It wasn’t even his arrogance over whether he chose to adhere to various rules which bound other managers, things like press interviews, his notorious BBC ban, stuff like that.  The fact that he clearly considered himself above mere rules was irritating, but not on its own the reason why I loathed him so much.  It was none of these things in isolation.  And after all, when he lost it was such a pleasure.  Thank you Leeds in ’92, Blackburn in ’95, City in ’12 and a few others.  But it didn’t happen often enough, and really, he was almost as horrific in defeat as he was in – shudder – triumph.

The real problem with Fergie was the sheer, all-round, ever-present, all-pervading unpleasantness of the man.  His particular brand of arrogant Glaswegian gittery and the way in which he held sway over the entire game and media too – the whole Fergie package – that’s what got my goat.  Whoever we support, we’ll have had managers who crossed the line in this or that respect, and made you see why fans of other clubs regarded them as less than nice.  But Ferguson exceeded all these limits, most of the time – and not in a good way.  Comical defeats apart, I really can’t think of a solitary redeeming feature.  If I absolutely HAD to put my finger on one thing that annoyed me above all else – it was the demeanour of the man when he was happy, when he’d just won or when Man U had scored a goal.  Sadly, these events happened all too often, and the results were always utterly repellent.  When the Mighty Reds scored, there he’d be, emerging from his dug-out in that annoying daft old man shuffle, fists clenched and waving in uncoordinated celebration, casting a glance of odious triumphalism at the sullen members of the opposition coaching staff, champing away happily on his ever-present wad of gum while his nose throbbed an ugly shade of victorious purple.  A most unpleasant sight.

Happily though, it is one we shall behold no more.  Fergie has retired upstairs, where his baleful presence need be of concern only to the inheritor of the poisoned chalice, David Moyes Esq.  Moyes may wish to cast his mind back 43 years to the effect a newly-retired but still-powerful-in-the-background Busby had on HIS successor.  But that is his problem.  All we need wish is that an early and unceremonious exit for Moyes – should he fail – isn’t a signal for the caretaker return of the Govan Guv’nor, just when we all thought that nightmare was over.  Perish the thought.

So I’m really looking forward to a Fergie-less season, and even to the slight bewilderment of the assembled media, who will be wondering where to brown-nose, who to target for their obsequious flattery.  Again, their bereft sadness is not my problem.  I’m just going to enjoy the football scene as it will appear to me – bright and shiny, replete with promise and optimism after the removal of that horrible, nasty man.  Man U will be that bit more difficult to hate, with the really-quite-likeable Moyes in charge, however long that lasts. But I’ll manage, it’s in my DNA as a fan of the One True United after all.  And Mourinho is back, and Wenger is still there – men you can’t help but respect and admire.  It’s going to be a good season in the Premier League, something I can really enjoy for once, whatever my beloved Leeds United do to screw things up one division lower.

And it’s all thanks to That Man finally being gone. Hallelujah!!

Man United – Why Always Them?

Former Manchester City maverick Mario Balotelli will be remembered in the English game for many things, but prominent among those various goals, skills and misdemeanours will be his famous celebration after scoring against Manchester United at Old Trafford last season in City’s 6-1 eclipsing of their local rivals.  Balotelli slotted the ball home calmly at the Stretford End, turned away with no sign of emotion on his face, and lifted his City shirt to reveal a t-shirt on which was printed the heartfelt plea “Why Always Me?”.  The message, after a series of incidents culminating in a row with the emergency services when he set off a firework in his bathroom at home, clearly indicated a feeling that he was being scapegoated to a certain extent.  To add insult to his perceived injury, he was booked for the t-shirt display.

Recent events, on top of a long history of prominent stories figuring the controversy and fuss that attend one football club above all others, might lead us to ask a somewhat wider version of the same question.

Why is it always Manchester United?

The furore surrounding their Champions League exit on the 5th March is fairly typical of the controversy the Champions-elect seem to attract, like flies to a bad piece of meat, on such a regular basis that you tend to wonder whether it’s just coincidence or a Machiavellian form of press-management.  So “enraged” was manager Alex Ferguson after their defeat, which turned on the dismissal of Nani for what might charitably be termed a high tackle; that he refused to appear before the assembled press after the game.  He was “too distraught” apparently, to fulfil his mandatory duties in that regard.  To the media of course, a story about a no-show from Ferguson is a much bigger scoop than anything most managers might say in adhering to their agreed obligations.  But Manchester United and controversy have gone together like port and nuts for a long, long time now.

ImageCloser examination of the incident in focus this time reveals a worrying lack of consistency in Ferguson’s emotional reactions over remarkably comparable incidents.  Nani’s liver-high tackle was described dogmatically as “definitely not a red card”, paving the way for Man Utd claims of ill-treatment and bias.  A virtually identical tackle some time before, by Arsenal’s Eboue on Ferguson’s own player Evra, was also punished by a red card, but that one drew praise from the choleric Scot, who stated that the decision was “100% correct”.  This apparent self-contradiction is nothing new in the world of Alex Ferguson, or indeed in the wider manifestations of the club who like to brand themselves “The Greatest in the World”.

At the end of the Real Madrid match, enraged home defender Rio Ferdinand saw fit to get up close and personal with the referee who had dared dismiss Nani, sarcastically applauding him at point-blank range.   This is a widely-recognised form of dissent, and would normally merit a yellow card.  The referee did nothing, and UEFA have since confirmed that no action will be taken against Ferdinand.  It would be tempting to ask what sort of message this sends out to aspiring young players, if the answer were not so glaringly obvious.  That message is, as ever:  Man Utd can basically do just as they like, the game’s ruling authorities being so much in thrall to the club’s global profile – and the markets dependent upon its prosperity – that they will often turn a Nelsonian blind eye to such flouting of the rules, in the fond hope that nobody will notice when other clubs are dealt with more severely for like offences.

It has been said, with some justification, that one of the more hackneyed clichés in today’s game is the regular statement from the Football Association along the lines of “We have looked into (insert name of misdemeanour perpetrated by the Man Utd club or employee here), and can confirm that no further action will be taken.”

This sort of thing has been going on for many years, and while most clubs might shy away from such regular media attention of a not entirely positive nature, Man Utd as an entity appear to subscribe to the old maxim that there’s simply no such thing as bad publicity.  They have displayed a talent for remaining newsworthy, certainly on the back pages and not infrequently on the front as well, more or less continually, and dating back to well before their current era of success.  The incidents are many, and mostly quite unsavoury – Rooney elbowing a Wigan player and getting off scot-free, dodgy penalties too many to number, the legendary difficulty of seeing a penalty awarded against them and so on and so forth – and yet the default press position remains that the club are pre-eminent in the game for reasons of skill, charisma and courage, an apparent myth lapped up eagerly by the global fan-base, most of whom have never seen the team play in the flesh.

We hear far too much also of Ferguson’s so-called “mind-games”, a phenomenon particularly beloved of the media in this country, but one which appears to consist largely of an elderly gentleman having great difficulty sticking to the path of veracity at those press-conferences he deigns to attend.  Madrid manager Jose Mourinho is one who prospers in these psychological duels – in Ferguson’s petulant absence after the game last Tuesday, he stated that “the better team lost”, and walked off, content at having fanned the flames of the Man Utd manager’s fury.

It seems though that UEFA are after all to look into Ferguson’s failure to turn up for the press after this latest controversial occasion.  Presumably they will investigate fully, and a technical charge of “Sulking” might just possibly ensue.  But it would be unwise to place too much money on such an outcome; it may well be that we’ll yet again hear those old, familiar words “no further action will be taken”.