Sir Alex Ferguson Sleeps Well as Manchester United's Rivals Suffer

Mark Tidey@@marktideyFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2013

Sweet Dreams Sir Alex?
Sweet Dreams Sir Alex?Clive Mason/Getty Images

Sir Alex Ferguson must be sleeping well at the moment safe in the knowledge that Manchester United’s main rivals are generally in disarray.

United continue to grind our results when they have to and occasionally explode into their more familiar expansive style.

They have progressed in the FA Cup and League and have given themselves a better than evens chance of reaching the last eight of the Champions League.

Sshhh...The treble is even been talked about!

Across the other side of the city, however, things are not so rosy.

Despite a comfortable, if not unexpected, FA Cup win against Leeds United, Roberto Mancini seems to be at a crossroads in his Manchester City career.

Uninspiring draws against QPR and Liverpool, followed by a disastrous loss to Southampton have seriously undermined City’s title defence and left the increasingly risible Italian scurrying off for some weekend solace in his native country.

It has been suggested that he is losing the dressing room and perpetual rumours of his impending departure are beginning to look like a serious possibility.

Even the ever reliable Joe Hart is moving through a strangely inconsistent spell and was left out (or rested if you prefer!) for the Leeds match.

Down in the Capital, Chelsea’s season, although far from over, has also been erratic.

The bizarre appointment of Rafael Benitez was not universally popular and the dithering over the decision regarding Frank Lampard’s future has been mystifying.

To be fair, Chelsea are still in the FA Cup (just) and the Europa League and look likely to qualify again for the Champions League next year so it hasn’t been all doom and gloom.

They do, however, look like a club who don’t really know where they are heading with a manager who has been on borrowed time since he arrived and a megalomaniac chairman who is treating the running of the club like a game on Xbox.

Across London, Arsenal have once again flattered to deceive this season and will most likely spend the rest of the term scrabbling around to get the final Champions League place.

Their increasingly embittered leader, Arsene Wenger, appears to be coming apart at the seams as his incandescent behaviour at the press conference before the Bayern Munich match exemplified.

Despite a spirited 20 minute spell in the second half, Arsenal were outclassed by a well balanced Bayern outfit.

The apparently distraught Wenger was seen marching off immediately after the final whistle, not stopping to shake hands with his opposite number and not appearing for a post match TV interview.

How quickly it has been forgotten that Wenger was once championed as the Messiah of English football, introducing revolutionary diets and training methods that are now replicated in many of the major Premier League Clubs.

Unfortunately, Arsenal have not won a major trophy since they captured the FA Cup in 2005 and even some of the most stalwart “Gooners” are beginning to ask for Wenger’s head on a block.

His mistake, if it can be classed as a mistake, would seem to be that he has resisted spending vast sums on players and has preferred to run the club without driving it into massive debt.

What a strange concept!

Not one, unfortunately, that will allow him to compete at the top level but admirable nevertheless.

Even United’s Champions League opponents, Real Madrid, are somewhat out of sorts.

The La Liga title is virtually a “shoe in” for Barcelona.

Barca are 16 points ahead of their great rivals who are in third place, four points behind their neighbours Athletico Madrid.

Add to that the discord between Jose Mourinho and the Spanish press and the rumored player—split between pro and anti Mourinho camps—and it is clear that The Bernabeu is not a happy place to be at the moment.

Granted, in terms of their last 16 tie with United, “Los Galacticos” are still very much in with a chance at Old Trafford.

Indeed, Sergio Ramos suggested in the Daily Express last Friday that Real always had it in their mind that they would go to Old Trafford to win and still believes that they will.

You wonder, however, whether the pressure on the manager and the disharmony within the club will be transmitted into the players on the field.

Defeat, after all, would seem to herald the issue of Jose’s P45.

No such worries for Sir Alex.

His charges are still very much involved in three major competitions one senses that even if, inconceivably, they fail in all three, his tenure is secure.

Unlike his four aforementioned contemporaries, Ferguson still very much calls the tune and it appears that he, and only he, will decide when it’s time to call it a day.

That security, and the stability and unity that comes with it, must make it easier for United’s players to concentrate on what they do best.

Despite his obdurate partisanship towards United and his occasional indefensible rants against referees, the BBC and the Premier League amongst others, Ferguson remains the blueprint that other clubs will be desperate to copy.

So, sleep well Sir Alex and enjoy it while you can.

In football who knows what tomorrow will bring.


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