4 May


French painters, or Spanish architects, have produced delicate works of art but does art really work on the football pitch? Arsenal and Liverpool like the flair and lightness of their inventive squads but it does not compare to the industrial blend forged by Comrade Ferguson in Manchester. Alex Ferguson hails from Govan in Glasgow, known for shipbuilding, rivets, bolts, and headbutting. Fergie’s products, Darren Fletcher, Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick pack a midfield industry into 90 minutes, and the results are solid. Manchester United’s midfield is the reason they will be champions this year. They are Clyde built.

Players like Arsenal’s Fabregas are like salads. They might be good for the body of the game but they go off mighty fast. Players like Fletcher and O’Shea will keep working like pumps in an engine, year after year. They might not have the flair of a matador but they can screw  a game shut. Manchester United’s quality central defense, Ferdinand and Vidic, don’t really do that much but sweep up the factory floor.

The sad fact is, much like heavy industry, footballers like Fletcher and Scholes are becoming rarer. The industrial age of football is winding down. The lighter model has arrived. One fears that the glory years of the game are behind us, when toughness and hard work secured perennial success.


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