Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 28th 2014 Contents A49
Tuesday, October 28, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
LONDON --- Ninety minutes after the return
of "Fergie Time" at Old Trafford, the man
himself returned to the limelight --- in an
interview on a London stage.
Alex Ferguson was preparing to appear at
the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on Sunday
evening when the Theatre of Dreams wit-
nessed the first stoppage-time goal of Louis
van Gaal s tenure as manager of Manchester
Robin van Persie, whose scoring prowess
ensured Ferguson retired in 2013 with a 13th
Premier League title, rescued a point for the
20-time English champions against Chelsea.
"It s been one step forward and two steps
backward for them so far this season," Fer-
guson told actor James Nesbitt in the inter-
In fact, United is in the exact same position
--- eighth --- as it was after nine games last
season, although David Moyes was a point
better off despite navigating a tougher opening
schedule. The owners fired Moyes only ten
months after he succeeded Ferguson, and
Van Gaal was hired to prevent another costly
Ferguson is already starting to rewrite his-
tory by downplaying his role in the appoint-
ment of Moyes despite co-owner Avie Glazer
stressing in May 2013: "Alex was very clear
with his recommendation."
Inside the theatre, it seemed slightly con-
descending of Ferguson to praise Moyes for
having the "courage" to leave Everton for a
bigger job, although he did urge potential
employers to now recognise his fellow Scot s
work ethic and loyalty.
If Ferguson wanted to make anything clear
to the audience, it was that he no longer calls
the shots at United.
"I had no involvement" in Moyes firing,
Ferguson said, despite his role as a director,
adding: "Now I d left I was no longer involved
in the process."
But Ferguson remains at the heart of the
Manchester United former player Park Ji-sung, left,
shakes hands with former manager Alex Ferguson
as Park is introduced as a new ambassador for the
club before the team's English Premier League
soccer match against Everton at Old Trafford
Stadium, Manchester, England, on Sunday. AP PHOTO
club --- particularly when discussing Van Gaal: "He
has that philosophy, stubbornness and determination
Ferguson won t put up with suggestions that the
squad required significant upgrades after his retire-
"It was an insult to say that I left an old squad, an
aging squad," the 72-year-old Ferguson said. "In your
early 30s today, that s your peak."
While Ferguson trotted out statistics, there was no
denying another. Six members of the starting lineup
against Chelsea were Moyes or Van Gaal signings, and
Radamel Falcao was out receiving treatment. Ferguson
will concede that United seem "fragile at the back"
while blaming injury problems.
This, however, was not an occasion when Ferguson
was peppered with anything but soft questions from
Nesbitt, his friend, in front of a congenial crowd. The
combative media grillings Ferguson endured to promote
his autobiography a year ago are not being repeated
for the updated edition.
Instead, many answers were greeted by raucous
In the 351-year history of the Theatre Royal Drury
Lane, where Britain s national anthem was first played,
the venue is unlikely to have ever heard football chants
from the stalls before.
"Fergie, Fergie give us a wave," they hollered before
he obliged from his seat alongside Nesbitt.
Since being freed from daily training ground duties
and stresses of the dugout, Ferguson has seized new
opportunities. Watching Europe s Ryder Cup victory
in person last month was "outside football the greatest
experience I ve ever had," Ferguson said.
There was also an appearance on the red carpet at
the Oscars in Hollywood in March, taking up a page
in his updated autobiography where he boasts about
getting into the "big one": the post-awards Vanity
Fair party. And Ferguson took great pride from being
invited to address students about the art of management
at the Harvard Business School.
"Talking and taking questions has also helped me
understand my own time in management," Ferguson
writes in the autobiography, which documents the last
year in two new chapters.
Sunday was not an occasion for taking questions
from anyone but Nesbitt, despite the audience coming
to worship British football s most successful manag-
er.Ferguson did admit to one "quite justifiable criticism
of my time at Manchester United": only winning two
And fittingly, an appearance billed to last for an
hour went deep into "Fergie Time," with almost 90
minutes on the clock by the time he left the stage.
With no training session to oversee on Monday
morning, Ferguson is not short of time to reflect on
one of the most remarkable careers in sport. But there
was no Ferguson encore in the theatre, leaving friend
Sam Allardyce, the West Ham manager, to satisfy selfie
seekers and autograph hunters by the stage.
Cheers, chants for 'Fergie Time' the stage show
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