After a few years of relative sensibility, Sir Alex Ferguson’s recent remarks aimed at Arsenal have shown that the Manchester United manager is back to his ridiculous best.
In the past two or three seasons while United’s major rivals for the title were Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, Ferguson toned down his antics as he came to the realisation that they rarely made an impact on his Portugese opposite. But with Mourinho now gone and Arsenal again the biggest title threat to Ferguson’s side, the Scottish manager has well and truly come back out of his shell. After his side drew 2-2 at Emirates Stadium on Saturday Ferguson was – absolutely incorrectly, I might add – critical of the referees for favouring the home side. He carried on with his anti-Arsenal antics this week by also criticising Wenger’s side’s response to the result.
“At the end of the Arsenal game, our players were in the dressing room feeling absolutely sick. That’s twice in two years they’ve turned the game around and got something in the last minute, so we were definitely disappointed to come away with a draw. Meanwhile, their dressing room was elated. They were celebrating as if they’d won the World Cup, which I found very interesting. Our players took something out of that, psychologically.”
I mentioned in the match report from the Arsenal-United game that I thought Ferguson’s criticism of the referees was a direct result of his frustrations with his side’s inability to hold on to the 2-1 advantage they had attained and come away from the Emirates with a win. But these latest comments have taken those frustrations to a whole new level. He talks about how devastated and disappointed his players were coming into the dressing room after the match, but then criticises the Arsenal players for their proportionately opposite reaction to the same result.
Am I missing something? Can someone tell me why, if the United players were so disappointed, the Arsenal players couldn’t be equally and oppositely joyous? After scoring a last minute equaliser against one of their most hated rivals how else were they supposed to react? Moderately happy? Not likely.
Taking a completely logical look at how two sides should react after a draw, I think most people would agree that generally, it should equal zero. In other words, if a side is moderately disappointed with the result of a draw then I think it’s perfectly feasible to assume that their opponents would walk away reasonably satisfied. For example, the typical response from two side’s when a smaller club snatches a result against a bigger club.
Comparing the weekend’s game with the previous example, it makes sense that Arsenal would feel like “they’d won the World Cup” and Manchester United would’ve gone into the dressing rooms “feeling absolutely sick”. The difference was that the feelings the players left the game with was related more to the manner of the result and the tension between the two sides going into the contest, surely what Ferguson’s frustration reflects.
Ferguson scared? Eduardo to start?
I can understand how Ferguson is feeling but the manner of his statements has revealed that, for the first time in three seasons, he feels threatened by Wenger’s side. And while his French counterpart has been far from appropriate and accurate at times when talking about his major rivals, Ferguson has more often not been the aggressor in the pair’s word of words in the past. It is clear that he is attempting the same again in attempt to distract the Arsenal manager in a bid to intimidate his rivals. To add further evidence to that claim that Ferguson is threatened, as well as the complaints about the referee and Arsenal’s players reaction to the game, the United manager also fired a shot at the Arsenal Football Club for their over-reliance on young foreigners.
“It’s certainly not wrong that you should be seen to have a proportion of home-based players. But it would be a problem for a club like Arsenal. That’s why they’ll protest the loudest.”
Apart from again being completely incorrect (Ronaldo, Tevez, Anderson, Nani, Vidic etc., anyone?), the United manager’s latest comments are just another indication that he is again intimidated by Arsenal’s presence around the top of the Premiership. And as long as Wenger and his players can realise what Ferguson is trying to do and remain unaffected, supporters of Arsenal should be delighted with Ferguson’s timely change in personality.
OK, so now that’s off the mind, there’s another game coming up for Arsenal tonight away to Slavia Prague. It was only two weeks ago that Theo Walcott blew us all away with two goals in a 7-0 win against the Czech side, but I wouldn’t count on quite the same result. For one, two of Slavia’s destroyers on the night, the imperious pairing of Cesc Fabregas and Alexander Hleb, have been left back in England, as well as Tomas Rosicky and Kolo Toure.
It will mean there have to be changes to the side that drew with United and I’m predicting Lassana Diarra, Theo Walcott, Eduardo da Silva and Gilberto Silva to return to the side in the places of those four players. Some have predicted that Emmanuel Adebayor may be rested but I can see Wenger starting him for one more game and resting him against Steaua Bucharest and Sevilla if Arsenal qualify tonight, as I think they will.
It won’t be 7-0 but the side that Wenger will put out against the Czech champions will be more than good enough to get the result away from home. It would be nice to see Eduardo and Diarra continue the good form they have shown when selected of late and put pressure on some of the first XI for a starting spot. I think it will be 2-0 or 2-1 and while a lot of supporters will be unhappy with anything less than another thrashing, as long as Arsenal come back with three points I won’t be too bothered.
What do you think?
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