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December 10, 2009

While the rest complain, Sir Alex just gets on with it

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Sir Alex Ferguson, photo courtesy minhquangle87

For South African viewers, this weekend’s English Premier League fixtures have a touch of spice. In addition to watching some of the world’s best players strut their stuff we have the added knowledge that a lot of them are itching to light up our lives next year at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.

But while we’re busy savouring that thought, there will be a number of Premier League managers sweating through this weekend’s clashes like pubescent boys at a strip club.

Avram Grant (Portsmouth), Gary Megson (Bolton Wanderers) and Mick McCarthy (Wolverhampton Wanderers), all mired in the relegation zone, will be desperate for a result against their respective opposition on Saturday, namely Sunderland, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspurs.

Of course, while Grant, Megson and McCarthy are biting their nails, having a pint down at the local, doing their yoga poses or whatever it is they do when the pressure’s on, Steve Bruce, Mark Hughes and Harry Redknapp (coaches of the Black Cats, Sky Blues and Spurs respectively) will hope they won’t come unstuck against their lowly opposition, who nevertheless have everything to lose and everything to gain.

And while a picture of sweaty, wild-haired managers tossing and turning in their beds and muttering strange nothings before the big game can be convincingly drawn for the majority of clubs in the Premiership, the one person who should be panicking badly but seems like he’s prepping for a boozy five-a-side kick around on the beaches of Camps Bay with his mates is Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson.

For those of you who’ve kept an eye, close or otherwise, on United’s recent news, he’s got no reason to be behaving like a cat that’s got the cream and then found a conveniently placed fluffy cushion in a warm patch of sun to have a bit of a lie down in. With 14 recognised senior members of his side crocked, eight of which are his defensive line, and a visit from the high-flying Aston Villa on the cards for Saturday night, Sir Alex should be stopping random people in the streets with a panicked look on his face, asking them if they’ve seen Jonny, or Nemanja, or Rio, or, or, or ...

Instead, Sir Alex welcomes the defending German Champions Wolfsburg to Old Trafford on Tuesday night and proceeds to spank them 3-1. Making the achievement so much tastier, if you’re a Red Devil, is watching Sir Alex’s traditional rivals Rafael Benitez (Liverpool) and Arsene Wenger (Arsenal) have minor nervous breakdowns about their respective injury lists.

Both Wenger and Benitez’s sides have come slightly unstuck this season, hampered by key injuries. It’s something that both managers have been quick to point out, and for the most part people have been willing to listen.

But while the Reds and Gunners have watched their various trophy hopes suffer blows of various degrees of seriousness, Sir Alex has quietly gone about his business. Keeping United on the winning track and likely leaving Villa coach Martin O’Neill the more worried of the two coaches before this weekend’s fixture.

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