Regular readers will know that I’m not given to outlandish statements, foolhardy predictions or irrational outbursts. But I say this to you: Democracy is dead.
The Greeks invented democracy, right? They exported it around the world to other nations who set about doing it way better. Like England and football, really. And cricket. And rugby.... tennis... *sigh* And now our Hellenic friends are holding a gun to the head of Europe and cobbling together a coalition to try and answer the continental concern.
In democracies everyone gets to vote – which is nice but quite often leads to stupidity winning the day. (See Frankie Cocozza).
I'm just bein' a knob and gettin' away wiv it. Eat your heart out Robbie Savage.
Me, I’ve always thought that the best system of rule is a dictatorship. You just have to get the right dictator.
Take Manchester United. When I was growing up they were English football’s glamorous afterthought. Post-Busby they slipped into the second division as easily as George Best slipped into a nightclub. O’Farrell was replaced by Tommy Docherty and the little gargoyle kept us entertained with the likes of Coppell and Gordon Hill (a kind of prototype Manc Cockney for Beckham) but had only an FA Cup to show for his efforts.
The Doc was a ‘character’ – a phrase that I think meant ‘pisshead’ – and United replaced the slurring bon viveur with Dave Sexton, a man with all the charisma of a woodlouse. Sensing that the crowd at the Theatre of Dreams were dreaming all too often while Sexton’s team were on the park, United turned to a Black Country version of Docherty, the Bling Magnet and Casual Racist Big Ron Atkinson.
Again, United copped a couple of FA Cups but were never able to muster a really significant assault on the League.
And to be honest, apart from the genetically encoded Scouse spite, no one really minded Man U. There was a bit of glamour sentiment attached to them, but essentially when The One True Dictator arrived Manchester United were a side overly reliant on Bryan Robson and Worthington’s Best Bitter.
What’s interesting about United managers prior to Fergie is that they lasted 3 or 4 years. In Sexton’s case, whilst doing f-all. The Govan Beetroot himself managed 4 years of diddly before they stumbled past Crystal Palace in an FA Cup Final.
What I mean to say is, they let the bloke be a bit shit for a while. How likely is that nowadays? (Apart from at Middlesbrough, where we wait for them to prove that they always were a bit shit before we move ‘em on). Ferguson had to change the culture of the club, which meant them getting used to such novelties as hairdryers, shallow frying and a drink called Water.
Slowly the dictator ossified into place and if we must all take it in turns to kiss old Taggart’s ring, then it’s fair to say that his greatest triumph has been his ability to recognise when players are past their use-by-date and when they’re ready to be thrown into the big time.
Me, I’d love to dwell on the things that didn’t work. And that basically means Eric Djemba Djemba, Kleberson and Taibi. It’s just that in 25 years that’s not bad going. Benitez managed to buy twice as many duffers during his somewhat shorter stay at the western end of the M62.
There should be many other instances where his faith hasn’t been justified. His interest in horses clearly extends to Portuguese show-ponies, but the mincing strut of Ronaldo and Nani has paid huge dividends in the end.
Giving gainful employment to a French background artist with a potty line in poetry shouldn’t have worked either but Cantona continues to be his masterstroke. That Kung Fu kick led some wags to suggest that this was the first bona fide cast of the shit actually hitting the fan.
Then there’s his sudden deployment of the cornerstones of England’s ‘golden generation’ – your Neville, your Butt, your Becks, your Scholes, your – shit, I’ve come over all Lawrenson – who were way too young to win the title. Of course, put that lot in England shirts and they became a less precious metal – the leaden, tinpot generation, I think you could call it.
My point is, if Ferguson’s tenure had been subject to the forces of democracy then none of this would’ve happened. If the season ticket holders of the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand (and frankly I wish he’d stop standing and just sit the fuck down in a comfy armchair somewhere) had been given their say as to whether, say, Roy Keane should spend more time with his wife’s puppies, or even if Carlos Tevez should haul his greedy ass across Manchester, they’d still be sitting in the North Stand today.
And if it was one fan one vote, Fergie would’ve been winding his way back up to his favourite Glasgow chewing-gum vending machine with his tail between his legs after a couple of years. The fans didn’t much care for 11th in the First Division in 1987 (which as the name suggests, teenagers, used to be the best division in the country).
I’m telling you, dictators are the best bet. If only you could rely on them not being too malevolent. And only opposition managers, former players, referees and BBC executives could ever accuse Ferguson of owt like that. Could they?
Me, I’ve always blamed his Mrs. There was a time, after a trophyless season (ah happy days!) when if it wasn’t for her elbowing him back to work we’d all be chuckling behind our hands as the Glazers or whoever went through managers like the lad Cocozza gets through Bacardi-breezered totty.
But he’s still there, dammit. It looks like he’s mellowing. We can but hope.
So well done, your Knightship but please, enough is enough. Martin O’Neill’s tired of waiting. Time for a new dictator.
And that George Papandreou’ll need a job.
Man U? Compare to the bleedin' Greek economy is a piece of piss, innit?