4 Apr 2009

Nice sentiments, Carra, but you're so wrong on this particular issue

Jamie Carragher claims that most Liverpool fans respect Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson. It’s nice idea, but unless we’re living in some alternate reality, I would argue that this is just wishful thinking.

As much as Liverpool fans would hate to admit it, Ferguson is the one of the best British managers of all time*, and is arguably the greatest living football manager.

It’s a no brainer that he deserves respect, which is probably what prompted Carra to state the following in a recent interview:

“I think most Liverpool fans would respect Alex Ferguson; you don't have to like him but you have to respect him”.

Carragher is, of course, absolutely right – all fair-minded Liverpool fans should respect Ferguson, and some of them do, and in the same way, all fair minded Man U fans should respect Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley.

However, I have to disagree that 'most' fans respect Ferguson.

In my experience, it’s the complete opposite. To see the truth of this, you just have to visit one the many Liverpool message boards on the net, where scores of fans take great delight in slagging off Ferguson in the most vile and personal manner possible.

Many of my friends who are Liverpool fans also engage in this type of character assassination, and despite Fergie’s achievements, they still have some kind of irrational hatred towards the man. I know this because I’ve argued the issue with them endlessly.

And whenever I’ve been to Anfield to watch Liverpool-Man U, all I seem to hear, whether it’s in the ground, in the pre-match chips and mushy peas queue, or in the post-match pub celebration/wake, is hatred and name calling.

Whenever I meet new Liverpool fans, I love to discuss the issue of Ferguson, because you can glean a lot about a fan by the way they think about United’s manager. I can honestly say that in 90% of cases, the fans I speak to seem to have no respect for Ferguson.

A few weeks ago, I was interviewed by ‘The Republik of Mancunia’A Manchester United site – and in the interview, I praised Sir Alex Ferguson for his managerial ability.

The level of anger that seemed to provoke is indicative of the irrational hatred Liverpool fans seem to have for Ferguson. Lots of Liverpool websites were immediately on my back and I was - predictably – branded a ‘Manc in disguise’.

I personally can’t understand this type of attitude.

Carra says that ‘you don’t have to like him but you have to respect him’, which is clearly true, but even that seems to be beyond many Liverpool fans.

What has Ferguson done to provoke such widespread rage? For the most part, he’s always complimentary about Liverpool and always has good things to say about the club’s history and previous managers.

So he’s a sore loser sometimes, indulges in endless mind games and moans about referees a lot in the press. Big deal! Isn’t Rafa the same? Aren’t most managers the same to some degree?

In any event, what exactly is there to personally ‘dislike’ about Ferguson? I don’t know the man personally, so how can I dislike him?

I respect his brilliance as a football manager, just like I respect the likes of Brian Clough, Don Revie, Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho and countless others. I guess that must make me a fan Nottingham Forest, Leeds United, Arsenal and Chelsea too, eh?

The same cannot be said for the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney though. I don’t know them but I I actually *do* dislike them, for obvious reasons I’ve documented elsewhere on the site.

For me, their talent is negated by negative traits that go right to the root of their personalities, examples of which include Ronaldo’s diving (i.e. cheating) and Rooney’s yob-like behaviour on the football field (i.e. horrendous role model for kids who look up to him).

Bill Shankly must have been a Manc in disguise too. Well, how could he not be after these comments he once made about Sir Matt Busby**:

“Matt Busby is without the doubt the greatest manager that ever lived. I am not saying I think he is the greatest manager, I am saying he is the greatest manager. Facts can prove that. He had tremendous courage, and his foresight and ability, everything a man needs to be a football manager, Matt Busby has.”

Imagine the uproar if Benitez eulogised Ferguson in such a manner!

When these comments were first made, I’m sure the Liverpool fans of the day looked at them and thought, “He has a point there”. I’m sure they didn’t turn into a rabid pack of yobs screaming for Shankly's head.

Shankly led the way with his ability to rise above the pettiness and give praise where it was due, irrespective of whether it was a rival club he was praising.

Such magnanimity is all but dead in the modern game, especially amongst fans, which is a sad indictment of how far the standards of fandom have fallen.

I wish Carra’s romanticised view of modern Liverpool fans' ability to give respect where it's due - whether for Ferguson or anyone else -
was accurate, but I submit that it just isn’t.

Of course, I’ll be branded a Manc in disguise again, but that’s only to be expected.

* Behind Shankly, Bob Paisley and Kenny Dalglish of course ;-)

** Matt Busby was indeed a superb manager, but we all know that his three year stint at Liverpool FC - in which he learned the 'Liverpool way of doing things - is the reason he was so successful for Man United :-D

NB. Anyone who really *does* dislike Ferguson, I’d be interested to hear your reasons why.


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  1. I think Carra is probably right. I despise Fergie as much as the next Liverpool fan. On match days that hatred seems to increase 10 fold. When I hear the bitter old c*nt trying to manipulate officials and bully the FA into making decisions in uniteds favour it makes my blood boil. Like Rafa said earlier in the season there appears to be one set of rules for the PL and another set for United.

    But on any football free day when my blood pressure isnt going through the roof and when im not screaming at the tv I would probably admit that although I hate Fergie I would have to respect him for what he has achieved at United. As difficult as it is to say that I think that anybody that has any clue about football has to realise that the guy has managed to achieve something special at united in the last 20 years just like shankly paisely fagan did at liverpool all those years ago.

  2. I have respect for Ferguson's achievements at Man U but as for the man, I can't stand him and wouldn't p*ss on him if he was on fire.

  3. I would be one of those that don't respect Ferguson for the simple reason that he doesn't show any respect for anyone else. He has bullied referees and the FA for years and let get away with it. His teams have always reflected his siege mentality of 'everyone is against us' and they behave like spoiled kids when things don't go their way which isn't very often I might add. They have always had a nasty streak to their teams i.e. Cantona, Keane, Rooney etc. and Ferguson condones loutish behaviour like when every United player bar the keeper chased Andy Durso (I think) around the pitch at Old Trafford for daring to award a penalty against them. Is it any wonder they have only won 2 Champions Leagues out of I don't know how many attempts and both of these wins were extremely fortuitous. European referees aren't afraid of Ferguson and Utd. the way most english refs are. He rarely gives credit where credit is due and is selective about who he talks to in the media i.e. no BBC because they dared to investigate him. He rules by fear and doesn't like those who don't subscribe to his mantra. I am one of those that see him for what he is so no I don't respect Ferguson.

  4. Jamie, isn't it time you gave up this journalism lark. You are so contradictory I'm beginning to think you have a split personality. One minute you slating LFC and all it stands for and the next thing you profess your love of the club, yet you don't like Rafa, Gerrard or 3/4's of the players. your arguments are not balanced. When are you gonna focus on the positives instead of any negatives, hardly the model of a true LFC supporter are you.

  5. What a ridiculous article. I suspect you are totally wrong and most Liverpool fans while disliking Fergie of course they respect him. The character assasination you refer to is a normal part of football banter these days especially on internet fora. For an example, look at how Mancs talk about rafa. Barely a peep while we were in 4th but as soon as we were percieved as a real threat all they did was talk about Liverpool. When people slate your team it normally means they fear that team - If that isnt respect, what is? Unless you are waiting for Man U fans to roll out the red carpet for Rafa lol

  6. Jaimie, give it up, if you were really any good at writing you would have a job doing it by now. Just because Tomkins got a job on the Liverpool website seemingly to stop his constant flow of literary diahorrea it doesn't mean you will.

    Trust me when I say your sub tabloid writing style and incredible lack of subtlety when trying to provoke an argument will never get you further than writing for a rubbish blog that gets paid per hit.

    Give it up lad, before you go from being a laugh stock to a figure of pity.

  7. Well Jamie, as the saying goes 'there's no smoke without fire'... and believe me, you're smoking like a blast furnace chimney!!!

    Too many people seem to come to the same conclusion when reading your articles... you don't come across as the genuine Liverpool fan you portray yourself to be...

    In order to respect a person I guess that person has to be respecful too... if you believe that old 'sherry nose' has respect for others then you are seriously deluded!!!

    Respect his success, definately... respect the man, not at all!!!

  8. Anonymous - you've over simplified my view of the club. I slate *certain aspects* of the club - so what - doesn't mean I don't love the club overall. Why is that so hard understand?

    And as for the 'journalism lark - why does everyone seem to think my goal is to write for a newspaper or the Liverpool website?! I'm quite happy with the job I have, thanks, which incidentally is my dream job.

    In any event, I wouldn't work for LFC.tv or any national newspaper anyway. I want to to do my own thing, not be beholden to some restrictive editorial strategy.

    I run this site as a hobby - I like writing about LFC, and if you or anyone else doesn't like it, tough luck! There's a simple solution though: Don't come to the site. I can't fathom why people who hate my views repeatedly waste their time posting on here the same thing over and over again. Mystifying.

    And Nick, what is the 'paid per hit' nonsense?! How did you work that one out? Clearly, this site is only about making money - you can tell because there are so many adverts everywhere.

    Anonymous - you say my articles are not balanced

    *bangs head against wall*

    *wonders why people cannoy understand this incredibly simple concept*

    Of course they're not! This is an opinion site and I have a specific POV. Why should I be balanced? Because you say so?!

    If you want balance, go to the BBC website.

  9. Anonymous - I agree with you about United's players and their unacceptable behaviour at times. However, I sincerely doubt Ferguson condones situations like the D'Urso thing, anymore that I think Wenger can be blamed for his side's high red card rate (until receently anyway).

    I have to disagree with abotu Ferguson praising people - I've heard him praise almost every manager in the league, including Rafa. Plus, he's heaped lots of praise on Steven Gerrard many times over the years of other Liverpool players throughout his time at Old Trafford.

    Re the BBC thing - I say good on him! Why should be talk to the BBC if he doesn't want to? If Rafa refused to speak to media outlets for a legitimate reason, then I would support him for it. Screw the BBC and Sky sports.

    Re bullying Refs - Why, because he speaks his mind about refereeing incompetence? How is that bullying?

    I really hate the idea that you cannot criticise referees and can actually be fined for doing so. What happened to freedom of speech?! I can't wait for the time a manager criticises a ref and is slammed by the FA and fined/banned from the touchline etc and the manager in question challenges the ruling in court and has it overturned.

    Again, if Rafa criticises referees for good reason then I would again support him.

    Barring managers from being allowed to speak their mind is draconian and out of touch.

  10. Jamie - why do Liverpool fans hate Ferguson? Come on. are you serious?
    His whole attitude to our team has been one of sneering dislike and bitter hatred. When he took over the job at ManU his avowed intention was to 'Knock Liverpool off their f***ing perch'.
    You want me to like a man that says that?
    So he occasionally praises Rafa, the club and Gerrard? So what? The man is a two faced hypocrite and any praise from him is insincere and worthless.
    Yes he's done (and is still doing) a great job. But so did Shankly and Paisley, and they managed to succeed without resorting to cheap tricks, petty spite and peevishness.
    And neither, by the way did Sir Matt Busby, who stands head and shoulders above Ferguson as a man and a manager.

  11. Smith.W - fair enough, you're entitled to you opinion. However, if you could post some links to examples of Ferguson's 'sneering dislike and bitter hatred' of our team I'd be very interested in seeing this side of him.

    I don't see how saying he wants to knock Liverpool of its perch is either sneering or hateful.

    In fact, I challenge you to find ONE example - just one - of something Ferguson has said or done that could be classed as hatred.

    I dar say you won't be able to, which will prove that your view of Ferguson is exactly along the lines of what I describe in my post above: irrational hatred.

  12. Where is man u fans respect for Rafa?

  13. its not the fact fergie critises the ref but the fact that if any other manager said the same things they would be breaking the existing rules and be punished. Fergie is not.

    If rafa publically critised refs after a game we had just lost ( like fergie does nearly every time they lose) you would be the 1st to write 50 articles slating him for not taking responsibility for the loss and for dragging the clubs good name through the mud.

    You know you would because you would be looking for the "critical" angle.

  14. Anonymous - If Rafa publicly criticised referees I would not slate him for it. I would support him, especially if the complaint was legitimate. If the complaint was blatantly wrong and he went on about it when it was obvious it was wrong, then yes I'd probably write something about it.

    Re Ferguson - I don't think you're being fair. Ferguson criticises and doesn't get punished? Maybe that's because he doesn't say things are deemed to be punishable? In any event, isn't the FA at fault for not being consistent, rather than ferguson, or does he secretly control the FA too?

  15. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/m/man_utd/7620692.stm

    "It is not the first time Ferguson has directed his wrath at Hackett.

    After United's FA Cup exit at the hands of Portsmouth last season, Ferguson launched a stinging attack on referee Martin Atkinson's handling of the game and said Hackett was "not doing his job properly".

    On that occasion, the FA found him not guilty of improper conduct. "

    Any other manager would have been found guilty, because anyone can see that what he said broke the rules.

    So I think I`m being more than fair.

    Also, I wasnt disscussing the FA , we were talking about fergie breaking rules and getting away with it. So the Fa comment is irrelevant. He has broke rules and he has got away with it.

    After reading a lot of your articles and comments I cant entertain the thought that you would "support" rafa in almost anything.

    Hell, you are critisising his team selection today when we won the game.

    You are always looking for the critical angle ( your words). If we lost and rafa blamed the ref ( like fergie does in the bbc article above) you would slate him. No two ways about it.

    You wouldnt write we should have a got a penalty, you would write about his bad team selection etc.

  16. Anonymous - surely you're aware it's not really credible to say that 'any other manager would've been found guilty'. How can you know that? What evidence is there to suggest this could possibly be the case?

    As for the link you posted. Ferguson got charged for saying the following:

    "My information is that Hackett told Halsey to rescind the red card and he would not do it," said Ferguson.

    "If it had been a Manchester United player Hackett would never have done this for us."

    Big friggin' deal! Of course he should be found not guilty. What I imagine happened here is that Ferguson was right - he probably got tipped off by an insider about what happened. Of course, he wouldn't be able to prove it. HOWEVER. The fact that he was not 'convicted' probably means that behind closed doors, Ferguson revealed his source, thus proving what he said was true.

    In the interests of not bringing embarrassment on the game, the FA found Ferguson not guilty and probably asked him to keep his mouth shut.

    Pure speculation of course, but if his coments were so offensive, then he would've been found guilty, no?

    The FA is a laughable organisation populated with utter clowns. As I said earlier, what about freedom of speech? one day, a manager is going to challenge the FA over a ban for speaking their mind and the FA will lose, as their policy contravenes UK and European law over the right to freedom of speech.

    Anyway, Ferguson has also been fined and banned by the FA:

    Nov 2008: Ferguson fined 10K by FA

    So - we have one case where Ferguson won and one where he lost. What have we proved? Nothing.

    Here's another example of Ferguson being charged:

    Ferguson facing ban for calling a ref's performance 'unacceptable' and 'ridiculous'

    Again, a farcical charge. If Rafa said this about a referee and it was *deserved*, then I would support him.

  17. Respect Ferguson?!

    As a Liverpool fan?

    You'll be posting how admirable it is that suicide bombers make the ultimate sacrifice in their pursuit of jihad next!

    The fact is that Ferguson has assembled the most expensive squad year after year and expectedly brought silverware.

    The managers that should gain real respect are those that have achieved with a low budget (or low expenditure)such as Wenger, Mourinho (Porto), Curbishly, Allardice. Put Ferguson at the helm of a newly promoted, limited budget club (i.e. Fulham) and then even as a Liverpool fan I would respect achievement.

    Respect is not an option for a true red.

  18. Jaimie - you respect Clough after his comments on our fans at Hillsborough?

  19. I respect his ability as a manager, yes. What do his comments have to do with his managerial ability? Winning 2 european cups in a row with an very unfancied team is a stunning achievement. Clough apologised for his comments:

    "I now accept the investigations have made me realise I was misinformed. I wasn't trying to be vindictive or unsympathetic, but my opinion has altered over the years. It was never my intention to hurt anyone."

    I suppose you're one of these people who hates Souness because his interview appeared in The S*n?

  20. how many leagues has he won just by harassing refs, mouthing to the media when it suits him and not talking to the media when they don't bow to his needs. i thought he fell out with sky sports yet i can't turn it on for 2 mins and there he is talking crap..
    if the refs gave half the poxy decisions to Liverpool that mancs get we would be well clear at the top.i know we've drawn TOO many games but
    quick example stoke at home gerard free kick early first half ruled no goal totally wrong. mancs at home against bolton 1-1, bolton playing very well could snatch it,wait a minute a penalty, what, how, clearly played the ball not again. happens alot.
    early in the season it may feel like no big deal but come this stage its a pain how many points they've been given way too easy. refs apologising afterwards is not worth a sh.t
    respect is earned. i don't think he has any respect for us and never had, if we were closer to them over the last few years he would have let us know what he really felt about Liverpool FC.
    Shankly,Paisly and Fagan could teach him alot on how to show respect and not be a bad LOSER ALWAYS.

  21. i second what has been said at 2:00 pm april 4th, 2009. spot on mate..

  22. I think that Fergie has brought a dark side to the game of football that wasn't there before. A side that incorporates not just play on the pitch, but psychology off it, mind games with refs, players and other managers, poker games with the transfer market, usage of the media not as a reporting outlet but as a tool, etc. In other words, he's the total football manager - it may sound good, but I don't mean it in a good way.

    Sure most things he does is legal, but it's not like he's playing it straight and being all upright. It's more like it's legal cos he's just about managed to stay within bounds. If you compare it to businessmen, there are those who make their money through good business sense and hard work, and then there are those who succeed by finding and exploiting loopholes in the system. Both legal of course, and both end up very successful (which you have to respect). But you see the difference? Fergie, to me, is the latter.

    So, while he does win many many things, which is why I respect his ability, at the same time, as a sports person I have to say I respect managers like David Moyes more than him (there, a relatively unbiased fan, cos I'd use an Evertonian example to counter a Manc one). And of cours this is my view. I can't speak for 'most' Liverpool fans, but we'll see how many agree with me. Then we'll get an idea of what 'most' fans think.

  23. Bryan - re your point that you 'suspect I'm wrong' about LFC fans re not respecting Ferguson - well, I'm running a poll at the moment asking whether fans respect him, and so far, the results show that the majority of fans who have voted so far *do not respect Ferguson.

    CLIK HERE to vote in Ferguson Poll

  24. scousers hating fergie is the same as us mancuanians hating torres. We both they're world calss we just hate who they work for

  25. What does all this prove anyway? - Liverpool fans dont like the manager of one of our biggest rivals? Big deal. Hardly earth shattering news.

    Stop press - Rooney hates liverpool.
    Neville hates liverpool.

    Who would have thought it possible!

  26. If 90% of liverpool fans dont like fergie surely they all cant be irrational?

    If you take all the manu fans that dont like rafa or mourinho then nearly every fan is irrational?

    Especially the "fans" that frequent the Rebublik of Mancunia. They are constantly belittling rafa ( fat spanish waiter etc.)

    They dont know them personally either , so how can they hate them?

  27. "I suppose you're one of these people who hates Souness because his interview appeared in The S*n?"

    So are you saying Souness was right to publish his story in The Sun on the anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster?

  28. Of course not. As everyone knows, the Souness interview was supposed to be published on the 14th, not the 15th. You seem to suggest that Souness deliberately set out to publish something on the anniversary of Hillsborough. This of course, is ridiculous.

    Conducting an interview with The Sun was clearly ill-advised, it doesn't warrant holding a grudge. Was anything Souness did done with malice or intent to cause hurt? No. Did he make a massive mistake? Yes.

  29. "ill-advised"

    Given Souness knew the full details of the relationship between The Sun and the club/supporters it was a dman sight more trhan ill-advised.

    Callous disregard would be a generous description.

    Like the Clough story you seem to be causually misinformed.

  30. Callous disregard? Nonsense. You have your view, I have mine. There is no way to prove it either way, though I would argue that the fact he heart surgery at the time *may* have been serious enough that he didn't consider things properly.

    If you wish to continue this discussion, then email me. Otherwise anymore comments on this topic will ne deleted, as they have nothing to do with the article.