Contrary to the impression given in some press coverage, Sir Alex Ferguson is not dead; he has risen again and walks the earth in his own likeness. It is business as usual at Old Trafford.
The remarkable record of Manchester United is due to a strong squad, consistency and having enough money to buy as many world class players as are required to win titles. Ensuring a permanent place in the lucrative Champions League is more about business interest that silverware and television rights and gate receipts are the imperative rather than pride in wearing a club shirt. Consistency, in this case, means replacing one dour, disciplinarian Scotsman with another, younger dour, disciplinarian Scotsman.
The migration of David Moyes along the M62 seemed inevitable following a nil-nil draw last week against arch rivals Liverpool resulting in a likely sixth place for Everton and not a place in the Champions League. With comparatively little money and a squad plagued by injury, Moyes has done well to achieve that and logic would indicate that given the considerable resources now available to him, Manchester United will conquer the world, find a cure for cancer and broker a lasting peace agreement in the Middle East. The expectations and the stakes are high. Anyone remember dour, disciplinarian Scotsman Tommy Docherty and what happened at Villa in the late 60`s, Wolves in the mid 80`s and Manchester United being relegated in 1974?
Recently, the excellent Stan Collymore has been expressing common sense regarding the German model for top flight football. This is where supporters have a stake and a voice and ticket prices are held at a sensible level. In the Bundesliga, football clubs are clubs and not simply a business. Another radical idea is a spending cap on transfers and a requirement to field home grown talent nurtured through youth teams. This would create a level playing and end the advantage of teams with rich owners simply buying another thoroughbred when one gets broken or fails. It might also dissuade the wealthy elite buying up promising young players and leaving them in the reserves just to stifle any potential opposition. Ironically, Manchester United pounced on Wayne Rooney, a product of Everton`s youth policy, after he frightened the life out of the United defence in a league game at Goodison Park in 2004.
Villa`s season will go down to the wire against Wigan and still face a mathematical possibility of relegation. With Wolves fans screaming for blood, Walsall did rather well to finish ninth in League One and West Brom will be happy with eighth in the Premier League. Imagine what could be achieved with the spending power of Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City or Manchester United. With such disparity, the Champions League will remain a closed shop.
Today, rich Manchester City face poor Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup Final at Wembley but for those fans that support football clubs rather than global marketing brands, there is a potentially more important game today. Local non-league teams have been doing rather well of late, particularly Chasetown, Walsall Wood and Rushall Olympic and today, Hednesford Town are up against FC United Manchester in the Northern Premier League Premier Division play-offs. Ironically, FC United were founded as a protest by Manchester United fans against some of the more dubious financial activities of overseas investors.
These non-league clubs with their loyal fan base do not need a dour, disciplinarian very well paid clone. What they do need next season, is for you to part with a few quid and go and watch them play.