The Fifth Official

Fergie's time comes to an end

May 13, 2013
By The Fifth Official
(Archive)

Few of us like Monday, but The Fifth Official does, for it brings with it a chance for him to point the finger and laugh. Here he pulls out the pretty, the puzzling and the downright pig-ugly from a week brimming with potential victims.

Fergie's time

Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates with his players and the Premier League trophy
PA PhotosSir Alex Ferguson celebrates with his players and the Premier League trophy

It will be mighty odd next season, nestling down to watch a game from Old Trafford and not seeing The Hairdryer prowling the touchline. I hear that, as part of a lasting tribute to Sir Alex Ferguson, a cuckoo clock is to be installed above the main stand which, every 15 minutes, will spit out a mini-Ferg that will chew gum furiously, berate a selection of match officials and repeatedly point at his watch.

I was seven when Fergie took over, and he's been the one dominating, demonstrative figure running through my football fanship. Yes, I've hurled insults at him - some probably as naughty as those he's growled in the ears of hundreds of linesman over years – but, more often than not, chuckled at his one-liners, his mocking of other managers and even his monstrous recalibrating of on-pitch events. Love him or loathe him, there's no doubt that the Premier League will be a poorer place without him.

It wasn't just Fergie who was emotional but, unlike Paul Scholes, you'd back Govan's finest to stick to his retirement plan. The only blot on the landscape was the podgy figure of Wayne Rooney, not even in the match squad after asking to leave the club. Again. That boy sure has some big kahunas, doesn't he?

The departing boss then responded to questions over the striker's future by saying: "It's not my problem." It's the first thing David Moyes will tackle and, given how their last spat ended at Everton, it might well be a full-on rugby tackle.

Come on feel the Moyes

Well, they were never going to give it Jose, were they? Fergie didn't have to look far when selecting his successor - about five miles, in fact. That's all that separates the Govan and Beardsden suburbs of Glasgow.

David Moyes had, no doubt, been standing in front of his bathroom mirror for the previous week, perfecting his own version of the hairdryer and kicking boots around the room in preparation for taking one of the biggest jobs in world football.

Just like Fergie down the road, tears moistened the corners of Moyes' scary eyes - the pair that will bore into Wayne Rooney's spoilt face the second he makes his way down the M62. His 11 years' service at Goodison isn't even half of Fergie's at Old Trafford, but recognition for the job he has done rightfully rained down from the stands as he secured another top-six finish, one place above the mob from across the park.

He said he was "gobsmacked" at the reception and applause from the stewards alone had almost been enough to set him off (though that may have been shock at seeing them actually contribute something).

It's all champagne and cigars now, and Moyes should lap it up while he can because what is coming his way is scrutiny on a level he'll never have shouldered before. He's essentially going from splashing around in a puddle to doing lengths in an Olympic pool with 250 journalists watching his every stroke.

But the start has been a success - seeing off one Manchester City manager before he's even behind his new desk. Now, once the season ends, all he needs is Fergie's magic wristwatch and he's good to go.

Elementary, my dear Watson

Ben Watson celebrates his late winner
GettyImagesBen Watson celebrates his late winner

Finally, redemption for a Wigan hero who battled against the odds to recover from a broken leg and watch with tears in his eyes as the plucky little club from Nowheresville lifted the FA Cup. Good on you, Ben Watson.

His majestic glancing header was a blow for oppressed ginger-haired people everywhere and provided a big reality slap for Manchester City and outgoing gaffer Roberto Mancini.

Listening to any range of pundits, bookies and managers, one team were merely turning up to enjoy the day, take a few snaps of Wembley and hopefully get to keep their suits.

Turns out that was City. This was a cup final display as limp as a sodden cheese straw and as disinterested as any I can remember, with the usual silk of David Silva and drive of Yaya Toure blunted by the might of Roger Espinoza and Antolin Alcaraz. Oh, the shame, and oh, the hilarity.

As for Roberto's opposite Roberto, this is the crowning glory in what has been a four-year audition for a top job. But with the cup final out of the way, it is now onto the real cup final - a must-win clash with Arsenal. But that is for Tuesday.

For now, let us bask in the euphoria of their achievement and allow the final word to go to man of the match Callum McManaman, who summed it up thus: Interviewer: "Did you believe you could win when you stepped out onto the pitch?" McManaman: "Yes." Interviewer: "So, how does it feel now?" McManaman: "I can't believe it."

Tricky Vicky

Wigan's wizardry was also, it seems, the final act of an eventful three years in charge at Manchester City for your friend and mine, the permanently-scarfed Roberto Mancini.

Eminently more talented, City's collective failure boiled down to a lack of motivation among their players, summed up by Mancini's indifferent attempt at lambasting their shamefulness. "They did not run a lot," was all he could muster to explain the inexplicable.

By the time he'd sloped into his post-match press conference, though, he was ready to roll, but the focus of his ire was City's happy-go-lucky press officer Vicky Kloss, who shifted uncomfortably in the same room as Roberto blamed her for not shutting down the sack stories, as if she could physically reach into the editorial offices of AS, and wipe their "Pellegrini to City", exclusive off the face of the earth. Not once, it appears, did Roberto consider that the stories are everywhere because they might be true.

But before any overblown sympathy starts to pour forth, let us not forget that he climbed into bed with City knowing exactly their penchant for ruthlessness. After all, he sat happily in the stands to witness Mark Hughes' final game in charge, knowing he would soon have the keys to Sheikh Mansour's pot of gold. This is football, after all, and what goes around usually tends to come around.

King of the Bosingwas

Jose Bosingwa made another defensive mistake against Newcastle
GettyImagesJose Bosingwa made another defensive mistake against Newcastle

Could Jose Bosingwa be the Premier League's greatest pariah? After a woeful 45 minutes for Queens Park Rangers, the Portuguese did at least manage to stifle a giggle as he sloped off at half-time, having conceded his last penalty and executed his final suicidal back pass for the club. The only place he should consider going next is Newcastle because, after Sunday, the Geordies must love him.

As QPR fans sang: "We don't want you here," resentment of Bosingwa was also bubbling up amongst fans of Sunderland, Aston Villa, Southampton and Fulham, who were sucked back into the mire as though they all shared the same shack built directly above a sinkhole.

And what a time for Norwich to score four for the first time since December and ensure they'll live to fight another desperate relegation scrap next year.

Fans of Sunderland, Aston Villa, Southampton and Fulham now switch to their default setting as Arsenal supporters - especially Villa, as their home defeat at the hands of Chelsea enhanced the prospect of a jockstrap-loosening final day showdown at Wigan.

Villa were sunk by fat Frank Lampard, who battled past a season-long contract snub to officially become Chelsea's all-time leading goalscorer, surpassing the legendary Bobby Tambling. That's no mean feat, Frank, and - who knows? - if Rafa hadn't benched you so much this season, you might already be nearing the 300-mark. His achievement was celebrated in typical Chelsea fashion too, with a cockney wide-boy pitch invasion. Lovely jubbly.