Is Sir Alex Ferguson merely masking Manchester United’s deficiencies?


Everyone in football, particularly English football knows all about ‘Fergie Time’ – it was a phrase coined in the mid-1990s when Sir Alex Ferguson’s Man United dominated domestic football and often clocked up late winners in time added on. Ferguson would point at the watch, the ref would allow the allotted time for United to score the winner and, sure enough, they often did. I’m not bitter, I’m just jealous. I don’t really buy into it. But, on Saturday evening, Ferguson was at it again – despondent about United’s 3-2 home defeat to Spurs and aghast that only four minutes’ injury time were played. Citing his frustration in the post-match interviews.

Now, this kind of thing can be seen through the Scotsman’s eyes, take off the anti-United rose-tinteds for a second. He was angry at the fact that Spurs, once 3-2 up with half an hour plus remaining decided to run down the clock in order to achieve their victory. Angry about his side’s poor display, it’s only fair he got worked up. But, when all considered, you’ve not won at Old Trafford for 23 years, you can understand a team taking that option. Fergie’s anger though, only served to mask another below-par United performance, the latest in a long line and the only one in which they’ve been punished for their sloppiness.

The first half, a fantastic one for Spurs, was symptomatic of the way the Reds have been playing recently. They gave their north London opponents far too much time and space on the ball, wingers Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon running riot and taking the game to United from the off. Indeed, in only took Spurs a couple of minutes to open the scoring; defender Jan Vertonghen plugging a huge gap in the pitch and finishing past Anders Lindegaard via a deflection. The second was much the same – Bale picking up the ball in the centre circle, steaming into oceans of space, beyond Rio Ferdinand and finishing neatly in the bottom corner.

A mad three-minute spell in the second half saw United score, Spurs regain their two-goal lead and then United score again to set up a tense finale. Spurs held on, just. But that first half, the room they had, the torment they gave United’s back line – it was simply Andre Villas-Boas’ men continuing their good form and Fergie’s below-par team acting as the recipients.

It’s obviously not all bad for last season’s Premier League runners up – it was only their second defeat and ended a recent good run of results, in which they won four on the bounce. The old adage rings true that a sign of a good team is one that wins when not playing well, but this setback bucked that trend and United’s man in charge will firstly be concerned that they’ve not displayed their best form this season and secondly, that they’re already playing catch up. He could point to injuries to Nemanja Vidic and Wayne Rooney – two key men – but that’s surely clutching at straws. Jonny Evans is a decent enough replacement for the big Serb and Rooney’s one of a number of striking options up top. Is the issue a midfield one? Scholes, whilst being a great servant of club and game, is in the last days of his playing career and Giggs much the same. Carrick – great passer of the ball, not strong enough or aggressive enough. Kagawa – supremely intelligent player but new to the fold and needs time. They don’t have any real thrust in the centre, a huge driving force, and title opponents are surely stronger in this department – Chelsea have Frank Lampard (getting on, sure, but still capable of driving Chelsea forward from midfield with late, lung-busting runs into the box), City have Yaya Toure, the best central midfielder in the league, and Everton have Marouane Fellaini.

Sure enough, United will prove everyone wrong and go on a super run of about ten victories on the bounce. It’s in their nature to shut people up and bounce back when the chips appear to be down. They have Newcastle next at the Sports Direct Arena, a tricky venue where they came unstuck last year in a 3-0 defeat. A similar result this time would mean three losses for the Reds already and we’ve barely got into October. It’s lucky Robin van Persie has been bang on-form otherwise we could be looking at a very different league table. An interesting winter lies ahead for the red side of Manchester.

Introducing the neat little app that’ll pay you to view content tailored to your interests: are seeking new writers to join the team! If you’re passionate about football, drop us a line at “” to learn more.

Share this article