The announcement of the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson as manager of Manchester United today will come as a big shock to many, but not to all.
You cannot take away his achievements at the club over the last 27 years. He won more premier league titles than anyone else. He also won the FA Cup five times and the European Champions League twice.
From a club managerial point of view this is unprecedented. From the supporter’s point of view, this is a phenomenal record and is unlikely to be repeated.
However, he won’t be missed by all.
Over the years he had become a thorn in the side of the “men-in-black.”
He was a bully and quite intimidating if allowed to be. For the most part he got away with things that other managers would not have gotten away with.
You could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times he was “red carded” and sent to the stands by referees.
You could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times he was sanctioned by the FA for remarks made to referees, and there were many, and not always very complimentary.
You could count on the fingers of one hand the cynical and disparaging remarks he made to, and about, referees and their decisions.
He was never slow in coming out of his seat to remonstrate with the officials.
He was constantly looking at the “Sir Alex watch” which, in the opinion of many, was an intimidating gesture and quite clearly had the intention of heaping pressure on the referee.
He was not alone with these sorts of antics. His contemporaries were also quite adapt when it came to this sort of managerial hooliganism.
It seems to be a trend that has crept in to the game and is going unnoticed.
Coaches and managers are allowed to come to the edge of their technical area, issue instructions and return to their positions on the bench.
Now-a-days the tendency is to stand on the edge of the technical area and sometimes outside while giving instructions to the players and, sometimes, giving “instructions” to the referee as well.
This should not be allowed.
The referees only have themselves to blame for allowing this kind of behaviour. They have the power but sadly they are either unwilling, or feel too intimidated to issue the ultimate sanction and banish these unruly managers/coaches to the stands.
My own personal “run-in” with Sir Alex came when I red carded his captain Bryan Robson on a pre season tour to South Africa.
Robson that day called me a f***ing cheat and I gave him his marching orders. Do I regret it? Absolutely not
Sir Alex said afterwards to the media that “the referee wanted to be the star of the show.”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I applied the Laws of the Game which states that (paraphrase – using offensive, insulting or abuse language or gestures is a red card).
Enjoy your retirement Sir Alex and I wish you well.
You’ll be missed by many, but not by all.
About the author: Dr Errol Sweeney (PhD) BBA Dip.PM, aka “The Hanging Judge,” is a former L.o.I and SA Premier League Referee, World Cup Referee & Assistant Referee Coach & Mentor. He coached/mentored a referee to 2 World Cups, Olympic Games, Confederations Cup, 2 U/17 FIFA World Cups and 4 African Nations Cups. He also writes on his own blog at SuperSport.