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There’s no smoke without fire, Sir Alex.

You can’t say that about the greatest football manager the game has ever seen!’ – A common retort sent towards any mere mortal who dares to question or criticise the great Sir Alex Ferguson.

Sir Alex has spent almost 26 years building himself an empire at Manchester United, a tenure that’s seen generations of teams all succeed and a foundation laid to ensure the lessons of years gone by are not ignored.

He’s watched great players come and go, some by choice, others by necessity. He’s seen the ownership change hands and directors come and go, he’s overseen the development of Old Trafford from an almost dilapidated place to attend games (it didn’t feel like it back then but compared to today it really was) to one of the most attractive and welcoming stadia in the World (I’m not sure which way I prefer it, probably the former if I’m honest).

In 2011 the club named the old United Road after Sir Alex. The imposing three tiered North Stand is now The Sir Alex Ferguson Stand, and for what he’s has achieved it’s just reward and befitting the unparalleled success the man has brought to a club which was stuttering and stumbling in the post Busby years when he arrived from Aberdeen in the Autumn of 1986.

I’m sure I speak for all Manchester United fans when I say there’s no one who isn’t grateful for what he’s given them and for the legacy we all hope he leaves behind.

But does this gratitude come at a price? Does his success buy the right to silence his critics? Are we really supposed to ignore any possible failings despite the magnitude of feeling? Are we not entitled to an opinion?

Sir Alex Ferguson has reigned at United with a ruthless will to win. He strongly, and rightly so, believes that and adhere’s to the belief that ‘no one’ is bigger than the club. But is he in danger of ignoring that belief when it’s happening right under his nose? It’s not just me who’s suggesting he’s making mistakes or arguably become bigger than the club himself, trawling through United blogs and various other websites and forums it’s clear to see that there’s a growing feeling amongst United fans that he really is making some spectacularly poor decisions lately.

I have a theory of my own and it involves the hacks and the media he so hates and wishes didn’t exist (although he’s astute enough to use them to his advantage whenever necessary, such is life I guess).

His biggest grievance is team selection. His now obsessive desire not to be predictable or second guessed by football writers means he tinkers with the side every single game.

In 2010/11 we won the title. Can you tell me what the ‘Best XI’ was? Probably not, although I bet you could reel off the ‘Best XI’ from 94, 96 and 99 and it would be very similar to the next man’s.

What’s United’s ‘Best XI’ today? If we were playing City on Saturday and the entire squad was fit, who starts? We wouldn’t have a clue because very few players get a consistent run of games in the team anymore and certainly not in the same position or alongside the same team mate. Surely it’s time for a settled side to steady the ship and play players in positions they’re trained for and feel comfortable playing in.

Then there’s the clamour for a new central midfielder. Thousand’s upon thousand’s of United fans cannot be wrong. Fans the world over have pinpointed United’s need for a new central midfielder for a number of years. The press have been at it too, even MUTV have talked about it. The only person who hasn’t seen it or doesn’t believe it’s an issue is the one man who really matters.

It’s not the first time either. Rightback was another area he ignored for too long and it’s only now that Rafael is looking anywhere near coming up to scratch (I’m feeling generous) and there’s no coincidence to me that coincides with the loss of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. Had both those players been fit I’m sure Sir Alex would’ve slotted them in at rightback a few times; thus interupting the progress of others and the necessity for a settled defence, a need [for a settled defence] made all the more greater by the introduction of a new (and somewhat shaky) new goalkeeper aged just 21.

Blackburn Rovers at Old Trafford on New Years Eve 2011. United’s midfield contains the aforementioned budding rightback, Rafael. There’s an aspiring central midfielder at the club who United thought enough of to break a few rules to obtain his services from Le Havre in 2009, but he’s overlooked to start the match despite Sir Alex intimating publicly in the previous summer that the reason we’re not purchasing a central midfielder is the potential of you guessed it…Paul Pogba. No wonder Pogba chose to play hardball with United and ultimately leave for Italian shores and more money in his pocket when he can’t even get a start in his position ahead of an erratic rightback.

I’m sure I’ll take my fair share of abuse for criticising Sir Alex, but to be fair, the weight of feeling and the sheer numbers of fans willing to question his latest selection and many other decisions he’s made recently, I get the feeling there’ll also be a fair share willing to not only agree with me, but also add their thoughts.

Oh, and one last thought. To humiliate yourself in front of millions by blaming the officials and a lack of injury time on Saturday, was embarrassing. Our lack of pace, concentration and professional positioning in the first half didn’t entitle us to an extra twenty minutes at the end to compensate for it.

It’s like I said at the top…..there’s no smoke without fire, Sir Alex. Maybe it’s time to get back to basics.

 

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