Football FanCast columnist Rob Swan
salutes Sir Alex Ferguson and his
sheer determination in going that extra mile to secure his man.
The signing of Dimitar Berbatov may well have been one of the most drawn out
transfer sagas of the summer, possibly overshadowed only by Cristiano Ronaldo
and Gareth Barry's respective rumour facades, but eventually, at just after
midnight on Tuesday morning, it was confirmed that the enigmatic Bulgarian had
been sold to Manchester United.
Sir Alex Ferguson had done it once again. Despite Real Madrid and Bayern Munich
declaring late interest, and Manchester City getting a bit giddy with their new
found wealth by bidding for every player mentioned in the national papers that
morning, Berbatov was only ever heading to one place. His heart was set on Old
Trafford, and Ferguson had made it his duty to ensure the former Tottenham
player would put pen-to-paper on a lucrative contract and fill the vacant
number nine shirt.
Both Chelsea and Man City were reportedly offering wages far greater than
United were able to, and his insistence on joining United is a testament to not
only Berbatov's desire to want to wear the red shirt, but also Ferguson's
stature as the most respected and revered manager in English football.
Keeping hold of Cristiano Ronaldo was the first major triumph of the summer for
the 66-year-old Scot. Flying to Portugal and speaking to Ronaldo directly,
persuading him to remain at Manchester United instead of living out his
Bernabeu dream, and most surprising of all, to look happy about it all, was
something you'd imagine only one manager in the world would have had the power
to get away with.
There was a period of time on Monday night where it looked as if Manchester
United may have been susceptible to finding themselves in big trouble, after it
was rumoured that Ferguson had no right to be speaking to the Bulgarian at all.
However, several hours later, the deal was complete. United had signed Berbatov
for £30m, Fraizer Campbell would go to White Hart Lane in a season-long loan,
and on top of all that, no complaint would be lodged against Manchester United
or Sir Alex Ferguson for the way Berbatov was approached.
Love him or loathe him – and it often seems as if you really do have to be of a
United persuasion to admire the man who has now been in charge of the Red
Devils for almost 22 years – Ferguson clearly knows how to get his own way when
it comes to getting a player he desires, or keeping a player at the club.
He may often infuriate opposition fans, but there's no doubting his everlasting
determination and no-nonsense approach in doing what's best for Manchester
United. Ferguson's fierce mentality is the underlying reason for the club's
success over the past two decades, and by signing one of the classiest forwards
in world football as well as keeping the player regarded by many as the best in
the world, Ferguson has once again set United up for another season of
He may have plans to retire in a few years time, and it comes as no surprise to
see Lord Coe offering the Scot the job of coaching the GB football team at the
2012 Olympics, despite the fact he'll be three score years and 10 when the
curtain raises on London's showpiece in four years time. But even at 70,
there's little doubt that he'll still have a job at the hotseat of Manchester
United if feels like he can carry on.
And knowing Ferguson's stubborn mentality, even Mother Nature will have her
work cut out to displace the Scot from the job he's become synonymous with.