They say that with old age you regress back to childhood and this is exactly what is happening with Alex Ferguson. When a child is rattled, they lash out. The world isn’t going the way they want it to and they can’t understand why.
Fergie has been bristling since last year’s fixture at The Emirates when Wenger stated that United’s fitness levels dropped in the tail end of a game. Thierry Henry duly popped up with the winner deep into injury time and Fergie went nuclear. Given that they were also beaten at Old Trafford that season, and Arsenal were currently top of the league with a game in hand, Fergie wanted to put us firmly in our place. You could see this determination on the faces of the players he sent out into battle, especially in the case of Anderson.
The equaliser led to the inevitable diatribe: Fergie’s security was at risk, the procedures in place, a ‘disgrace’. Strange no other manager has mentioned anything in the year and a half that the Emirates has been open, or that the Police and local council missed it during the design and consultation period. He goes on, pointing out that Arsenal celebrated the draw too much, that there was a shameful level of abuse directed towards him, and finally an urgent need for a quota of home-grown players, which Arsenal and Liverpool will struggle with.
We all know there is no way on God’s Green Earth any of these gripes would have surfaced had United won the match. Instead, we would have been treated to a daily stream of smug, arrogant superiority emanating out of Manchester. We’d have been told that Arsenal were not ready, lacked mental strength and were pretty to watch but ultimately couldn’t deliver at the highest level. Arsenal have rebuilt on the cheap, whilst Fergie has spent tens of millions, logic had simply caught up.
As the game started to wind down and with victory in sight, Fergie was already planning to deliver this damning soliloquy, straight after a provocative lap of honour.
Life’s a bitch, Sir Alex. You committed the cardinal sin of embracing victory before the fat lady sang. Would you like some Brie with those sour grapes of yours?
The last time Fergie fired off such a sustained broadside at Arsenal they were serious title contenders, striking unease deep within his heart.
Congratulations Arsene, you’ve put us back in the game.
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