Early Doors

An ode to Sir Alex, sort of

Early Doors

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Remember, remember the sixth of November. Today marks the 23rd
anniversary of Sir Alex Ferguson's reign at Old Trafford. The Manchester United
manger arrived at Old Trafford on this date all the way back in 1986, and it's
fair to say things have never quite been the same in M16 since.

It's difficult to sit on the fence with Fergie - you either
love him or loath him. Early Doors firmly sits in the former camp, mostly
because of the many moments of pleasure, usually unintentional, he has provided
over the years.

Such moments would include the following, what Davina McCall
might call his 'best bits':

Party pooping - Fergie
has always been keen on discipline and his iron fist came thumping down on renowned
party animals Ryan Giggs and Lee Sharpe following a second defeat in a week in
1992, before United were any good. The Fuhrer - as Steve Bruce likes to call
him from a safe distance - got wind of an unauthorised night out in Blackpool being enjoyed by the pair, so made his excuses
and drove straight to Sharpe's house where the party, with the help of several females,
was continuing. "He turned up
at Sharpey's door. I had a bottle of Becks in my hand," said Giggs. Oh
dear. The rollicking that ensued has gone down in legend.

Hairdrying - That
incident was possibly a seminal moment, and provides early evidence of a
practice that has since struck fear into even the most hardened professionals. To
give someone 'the hairdryer treatment' is to dish out a verbal blast so
forceful, it literally blows the recipient's hair back, creating a similar
effect to that which a motorbike rider would experience when travelling at
approximately 90mph without a helmet. Championed, nay, patented by Fergie, the
phrase is now in common usage, although no one can quite do it like the great
man himself.

Buying expensive, and
rubbish, foreigners
- Juan Sebastien Veron, Eric Djemba-Djemba, Kleberson...
just a few signings who failed to make the grade at Old Trafford. But it is
Fergie's absolute denial that he made mistakes on such players that is so
endearing. "I'm no f****** talking to you. He's a f****** great player.
Yous are f******* idiots" was his response when his £28.1 million signing of Veron was questioned.

Priceless quotes -
Twenty-three years is a long time to accumulate a decent stock of quotes and
Fergie has not disappointed. On Manchester
City: "They are a
small club, with a small mentality." On Italians: "When an Italian
says it's pasta I check under the sauce to make sure. They are innovators of
the smokescreen." On an amazing comeback in the 1999 Champions League
final: "Football, bloody hell." On Ryan Giggs: "I
remember the first time I saw him. He was 13 and just floated over the ground
like a cocker spaniel chasing a piece of silver paper in the wind." On a
title run-in: "It's getting tickly now - squeaky-bum time, I call
it." On Dion Dublin's anatomy: "Big? It isn't
big. It's magnificent! I've seen some whoppers in my time, but Dion's is
something else!"

Ruling the media
- Fergie's self-imposed BBC ban has lasted longer than anything the FA can come
up with - he has not spoken to the Beeb since a 2004 documentary put the
spotlight on his agent son Jason. And nine years earlier, when John Motson
asked, following Roy Keane's sending off, if he would "address the Roy
Keane situation?", Fergie responded with: "You ****ing know the rules
here." The rules appear to be simple - talk about what he wants, or he
won't talk at all.

Injuring David
- Fergie admitted that he couldn't have done it if he tried, but
when he kicked a boot from the dressing room floor right into Beckham's
perfectly groomed face, it signalled the end of the midfielder's career at Old
Trafford. That Fergie tried to make light of the situation spoke volumes. "If I tried it 100 or a million times it couldn't happen again. If I
could I would have carried on playing!" Beckham left for Real Madrid
months later.

Insulting referees
- Fergie has made this an art form, although his recent comments about Alan
Wiley's fitness, or lack of it, may prove to be a watershed. What a shame he
now feels he has to tone down his comments.

Pizzagate - The 'battle of the
buffet' left many a United hater chortling after a pizza was thrown over
Fergie. Lovable Ashley Cole described
the incident thus in some book or other he made a packet from: "This slice
of pizza came flying over my head and hit Fergie straight in the mush ... all
mouths gawped to see this pizza slip off this famous, puce face and roll down
his nice black suit."

Oh, and during his time at Old Trafford, he's helped draw
United level with Liverpool on 18 league titles, won two European Cups, one of
which was part of an unprecedented treble, one Cup Winners Cup, five FA Cups, three
League Cups, a Club World Cup, won numerous individual honours, discovered and nurtured
talent such as Giggs, Beckham and Paul Scholes, brought the best out of the
likes of Eric Cantona and Roy Keane, become the greatest manager of the modern
era, if not of all time and been knighted.

But ED would not
be fulfilling its remit if it were to dwell on such things.

- - -

"To be honest, I must say this, and Edwin doesn't like this too much, for
sure, but he doesn't help me too much." Tomasz Kuszczak reveals it's not all sweetness and
light within Old Trafford's goalkeeping union

right to sponsor Colombian football has been won after, typically for the
country, a coke war. No, not the sort associated with small mountains of white
powder, DEA officers, guns and twitchy gangsters, rather a cola war won by Colombia's
biggest soft drinks producer Postobon. The fizzy pop makers represent an
altogether more salubrious name for the game to be associated with, considering
its previous sponsor was cigarette producer Protabaco.

mercurial Jim White will be filing later on today, while we'll have a Paper
Round, all the latest team news, weekend previews and fantasy advice. Plus, Derby are playing Coventry
in the Friday night Championship game - follow live text commentary on that one
from around 19:30 here.

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