The beautiful game and its youth…scarred

These days, we appear to live in an age of ‘the enquiry’. From one month to the next there is another investigation going on into some matter from past or present.

In recent times we’ve seen politician’s expenses fraud and phone hacking by media companies. There’s been investigations into policing across the UK with Hillsborough being very prominent above many other cases.

It doesn’t just stop with politics and policing though. The biggest story of all must be the ongoing devastation that is child abuse.

The endless amount of historical child abuse has ranged from celebrities to politicians to priests. There appears to be no end to this horrible saga.

With stories now emerging from sport, football being the current sport in question, we seem to have uncovered another horrible truth about UK society. The ordeal these young people have gone through is horrific.

As Celtic fans, we know all too well about the crimes of Jim Torbett. Despite this being one of the few such stories to have ever emerged in years gone by, it has now come to light that Celtic Football Club weren’t the only club in the UK to have any of their officials abuse children in the past.

It has long been a stick to beat Celtic with if you were a Rangers fan or indeed one of the New Rangers fans these days. The “Big Jock Knew” slur continues to get regurgitated every other day in their world as if Ibrox have a squeaky clean history.

What we have learned in the last couple of weeks is that these predators were everywhere. How each matter was dealt with at the time (if known) has varied from club-to-club, but now people are stepping forward and sharing their pain.

This truly is a sad period for football, but it is also an incredibly important time for those who were abused to be able to express themselves and try to shed some of the pain they have carried for too long. Given the way society has handled similar matters in the past it is of no surprise that football has fallen under this spell as well.

There are a lot of courageous people out there coming forward and sharing their grief after such a long period of silence. I cannot begin to imagine how that must feel.

Hopefully by sharing now, they can somehow salvage some of the happiness which they have been deprived of all these years. That is no consolation of course for what they have been subjected to, but it may be a step towards halting this kind of thing happening ever again.

Unfortunately, I think we may only have just scratched the surface of the matter. As sad as this episode may be, it all needs to come into the open in order help the victims and punish the abusers.

We simply cannot allow this kind of behaviour to continue in sport or in society. Children should not have to suffer in silence, feel ashamed to come forward or be preyed upon by such vile ‘human beings’.

I can only hope that with this being as wide-spread as it is, some of the scum that have used the Big Jock Knew slur for so long might take a look at their own back yard for once. That they might think twice about taunting people about such a tragic story which has affected so many people.

This is a real matter involving real people. The victims need to be heard and to receive sufficient support.

To use such material as an instrument to torment your rivals only brings you down to the same level as the abusers. Keep that in mind the next time you wish to taunt your opponent please.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

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Friday night lights

rugby-park-kilmarnock-general-view_3453658Celtic are back in action tonight in a rare live broadcast for Hoops fans on a Friday evening. However, it’s been another disappointing international break for Scotland fans like myself.

Gordon Strachan may have got a half-decent performance from of his players against England. That amounted to nothing though with three goals being conceded at Wembley.

Thankfully, I have Celtic to lift my spirits tonight. An away encounter with Kilmarnock to watch on a Friday evening is most welcome.

Mind you, there have been plenty of other football stories circulating to attract our attention this week. Aside from the Steven Gerrard rumour, the meltdown continues over at Snake Mountain.

With the strength and variety of damaging storylines coming out of Mordor these days, it has gone from tribute act comedy to a sporting embarrassment waiting to crumble die. I honestly cannot keep up with the plethora of threads that emanate from the other side of Glasgow not that the Scottish media report much of this.

On top of that shambles, the SFA are a hot topic once more. The Resolution 12 story is back in the fold after getting an airing at Celtic’s AGM during the week.

With FIFA already looking at the SFA (as well as the English FA) over Poppygate, UEFA are coming in at another angle. The latter is with thanks to the truth seekers who have fought hard for justice and transparency over rule breaches in Scottish and European football by the governing body of our game and their now deceased pet team.

There will be lots more to come from this. There will also be a lot more to come from Ibrox unless the establishment’s new puppy team implode before the shit really hits the fan.

Meanwhile back at the Rodgers Ranch, Brendan is tending to his flock of warriors. Tonight we can turn our minds back to the progress Celtic are making.

The league title is the theme for tonight and obtaining more goals and points to make that happen on the agenda. With 10 points between Celtic and Aberdeen, the Hoops are looking comfortable.

Hard work continues behind the scenes and that means fine tuning the talent currently at the club. There are still several fringe players whose futures will be decided throughout the remainder of this season, if not by January.

Might there be the possibility of one or two coming in? I’m not sure that is something Celtic are in desperate need of to see us through this campaign unless there are departures.

One player who has been mentioned as coming in is Steven Gerrard. Personally, I can’t see any advantage to bringing him to Celtic at this stage.

We have a midfield more than capable of winning the title, double and treble. Had European football been on the cards after Christmas I might have understood, but that remains an unlikely possibility.

Right now Celtic need to carry on the charge with the team we do have. As I said before, we have a lot of fringe players who will need to either need to get an opportunity or move on temporarily or permanently.

This size of squad is not sustainable particularly if you want youth to flourish. So expect some exits as this team continues to grow.

As for Rugby Park tonight? Three points please Bhoys.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

The end of the World (Cup) is nigh

On Thursday night I listened in to Radio 5 Live Sport after the England match had finished. To be honest, it wasn’t to gloat, but I was prompted to listen after reading some online content.

As one would expect, there was the usual toxic mix of substandard performances, lack of passion and poor squad selection. All of these issues come to a head when you’re team suffers a defeat.

Had England, no Roy Hodgson, picked guys like John Terry or Ashley Cole as suggested by many callers, would it really have made a difference? Maybe, maybe not, the thing to remember is that England would still have had the same manager deploying the same tactics.

So instead of complaining about lesser experienced international players, England fans would be calling for guys like Terry and Cole to retire. You’re damned if you do, your damned if you don’t.

For once in my lifetime, England went into a tournament without the hype which we’ve become accustomed to, which in return sees many Scot’s supporting every team England encounter. Because things were played down this time around, I actually found watching England that little bit more palatable and was less concerned (if at all) about the result.

Some might say, “Stevie, you’ve become an English sympathiser in your years down south” but there’s no chance you’ll never find me chanting for England. I’m just less bothered because they haven’t been bigging themselves up as is usually the case.

As one caller mentioned on the radio, Gianluca Vialli was spot on in his assessment of England. What Vialli mentioned in a BBC interview, shown last week, is something all of us know, but most England fans have yet to realise.

“As an outsider, I look and I read and I know English fans and the media, for about four years, have been a bit depressed about the national team and have very little expectations.

“But then the World Cup arrives and all of a sudden you start talking about semi-finals, the final and how this is the strongest team you’ve had in the World Cup for years. It’s quite funny.”

He may only be referring to this World Cup, but this happens at every tournament. I’ve seen better England squads than this one but even then, I’m never wholly convinced that they are potential winners but they’ll tell you otherwise.

As a Scotsman and as one of those Celtic fans who support Scotland but not Ireland, I get international disappointment on a regular basis. When Scotland play I want the best but unfortunately the national side has been on the slide for as long as I can remember.

There have been brief moments of joy but even that was quite a while ago. There is some rejuvenation going on currently but we’ll have to wait until the next Euro campaign to see how that’s going.

England should count themselves lucky that they even make tournaments. Scotland haven’t made a major tournament since France 1998 and even when we have made one, we never qualify from the group phase.

The difference is we know our limitations. What we’ve never been able to put our finger on is what the problem is and how we can resolve it.

One of Scotland’s greatest failings is the domestic game. Sure we’ve still got players dotted around the UK but the standard is pretty low.

England are blessed with better fortune in that there are better facilities and a larger population. In general though, there is more money ploughed in.

Scottish clubs are devoid of serious investors. With the exception of Celtic, nobody is willing to put money to Scottish clubs most likely because its a poor product.

Dermot Desmond is Celtic’s majority shareholder, a very wealthy one, but throwing money at Celtic can only go so far. He is a businessman and despite any genuine interest he has in Celtic as a fan, he must still balance the books and turn a profit.

In England, there is more money than sense. You have all these money men chucking money at overpriced players from other countries, paying English players the same and expecting the same output.

The truth is some of these guys look better because they have the benefit of playing with European and World class players from other countries week in, week out in the Premier League. They play in a league inflated by huge amounts of cash, globalised by a television network who virtually own it and yet supporters lack the perspective to see beyond their “best league in the world”.

England have some talented individuals but I have seen better England teams. If they want to see an improvement, they will need to take a reality check first.

It should be noted that when their World Cup group was drawn, it was widely acknowledged that England would struggle to qualify from it. Tell me something, what has changed since then?

And let’s be honest, is it really that bad? The current World and European Champions are already out so they’re in good company.

Lick your wounds England and come watch the rest of the World Cup from the sofa. Scotland, Northern Ireland, The Republic of Ireland and Wales are waiting.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie

Headhunting

Where do you begin when searching for a new manager? Well avoiding past mistakes would be beneficial to begin with.

Appointments aren’t always about replacing like for like. You have to look ahead and where you are as a business or in Celtic’s case, a club and a business.

The question the board must ask themselves is “what direction is the club going in?” The football climate in which Celtic exist is one with restrictions, that we are all well aware of.

There isn’t the kind of money flowing through Scottish football like there is in other leagues in Europe. I’m not just talking about the flagship leagues mind you, they are an inner circle that requires more money than sense.

I’m referring to countries elsewhere in Europe where there are league’s that fair better with TV revenue. Some of these countries appear to have better deals with similar or smaller audiences than Scotland and yet I’m not entirely convinced that the quality is substantially better.

Despite this, Celtic Football Club is set up well to survive the financial shortfall, even if the rest of the Scottish clubs are not. The financial backbone that is in place ensures stability which in this day and age is a saving grace.

On the playing field, the league is of course bread and butter for a club like Celtic. Currently, there is no opposition to threaten Celtic’s claim season after season.

Not even the emergence of Second Rangers can be considered a threat. They don’t play in the SPFL, are not guaranteed promotion after next season or to even exist long enough to get there.

So what is the attraction for a potential suitor to the Celtic throne? Well, should an appointment come from within the Scottish game, it will be a big step up by taking the reigns of a club like Celtic.

Winning the league would be a huge challenge for guys like Jackie McNamara or Paul Hartley whose names have been mentioned in the past few days. Europe would be considered an even greater task but Lennon was in that boat as well and proved the doubters wrong.

It took him a couple of years to get to grips with competing in Europe but he learned. The question is will Celtic go down the same route as they did with Lennon or pick someone with more experience?

Henrik Larsson has been talked about heavily, even before the departure of Lennon. As a club legend it is not surprising to hear his name every now and again.

Many fans would love be to see the return of the king and Larsson himself has hinted at a return some day. He has been busy coaching in his home country of Sweden for five years now and looks set to continue that unless matters change.

For some, it isn’t Henrik’s time and feel if he had to come now it might tarnish his legendary status. For me though it would be the board’s desire to capitalise on Larsson’s marketing value that is of concern.

PR stunts are not beyond Celtic and if Larsson’s attraction was purely a financial one I disapprove. Robbie Keane was drafted in at a time when Mowbray’s efforts to make Celtic success flopped.

Keane’s appearance in a Celtic shirt must have sold dozens of jerseys and put bums back on seats. In reality, getting rid of Mowbray was the best thing the club did that season, the worst being his appointment.

If the club are looking at managers from outside of Scotland then you are looking at someone who may have handled a larger spending budget or worked in a tougher league but probably not managed a big club. There are a number of candidates out of work right now and when a club with the stature of Celtic are headhunting, interest is most definitely going to be high.

For example, David Moyes, ex-Celt and long-term guardian of Everton, recently sacked by Manchester United. He might be out of Celtic’s league financially and not everyone’s cup of tea, but on the other hand Celtic could a be the perfect opportunity for him to rebuild his reputation.

After just ten months at Manchester United he could be considered tainted goods, but he didn’t get that job by chance. He earned the opportunity through hard work obtaining his coaching badges whilst still a young player and earning plaudits from his fellow professionals as he climbed the managerial ladder.

Promotion to the second tier of English football with Preston (and very nearly the Premier League) brought him to the attention of Everton. He maintained Everton’s status in the top half of the Premier League in all but two of his eleven years at the helm.

He brought some brilliant talent to Everton, though the money was there to do so. What goes against him is that he never won a trophy or made an impact in Europe despite getting some very respectable league positions and making a domestic final.

Also in the managerial wilderness right now is another former Celtic centre half, Malky Mackay. Disposed of by Cardiff in December, he is certain to be looking to get back into the game as soon as possible.

He first stepped into the management hot seat as caretaker at Watford. That role would become his own but only after Brendan Rodgers had failed to deliver first.

Cardiff then came calling for Malky and it was there that he made a name for himself. He made the play-off’s and the League Cup Final but would eventually see defeat in both challenges.

The following season he won the Championship title and earned automatic promotion to the Premier League but soon after a rift would materialise between the himself and the owner. There is no doubt that the souring of that relationship diluted Cardiff’s chances of staying up and that was ultimately the end of the road for Malky and Cardiff.

Would he be a good choice for Celtic? I think so, but the main question is, is he the kind of coach the club are interested in or could even persuade to come north of the border?

Paul Lambert, another former Celt, currently plying his trade in management at Aston Villa could be looking for a move. New ownership is on the cards at Villa and when that happens you tend to find that your face no longer fits.

At this stage new owner’s have not been acquired but Lambert may take this opportunity to move if he feels his role is under threat. He stepped away from relative safety with Norwich to take the job at Villa but it is a big ask to get success at that club these days.

Staying up isn’t generally a concern for Villa, its progressing that is the challenge. Lambert may well continue his career at there, but if Celtic do come calling and money was not a huge concern for either party, I think Lambert would find it hard to refuse.

Also on that list of rumoured candidates is Steve Clarke. He has carved out a very respectable career as an assistant manager for a Newcastle United, Chelsea, West Ham United and Liverpool.

Clarke has also worked under some big names in management. Ruud Guillit, José Mourinho, Avram Grant, Gianfranco Zola and Kenny Dalglish have all utilised his services over the years but he would eventually venture out on his own.

That came in the form of Head Coach at West Bromwich Albion. His first season there was a huge success finishing eighth in the league.

Sadly for Clarke, that success would not be mirrored the following season and he was axed before Christmas. Whether he returns to management or not only time will tell but the one fact that is unquestionable is his ability as a firsf teamm coach.

Then there is Owen Coyle, a man formerly linked with the job at Celtic. On that occasion he was said to have been offered the role before Tony Mowbray but turned it down.

His managerial career was on the up with Burnley and he chose to stay in England. It could have been a good appointment for Celtic at the time but my feelings on that have changed.

As much as I understood his decision to make a name for himself in England, his career is in a different place altogether now. After gaining promotion to the Premier League with Burnley he jumped ship mid season to former employers Bolton who he had once played for.

Burnley were relegated that season and many felt Coyle had turned his back on them and I am inclined to agree. Although he had managed to keep Bolton in the Premier League for two seasons, he would eventually find himself back in the Championship.

Results didn’t go well down there and he was out of work only a few months into the new season. The following year he took the reigns at Wigan but once again he found himself out of work just six months into the job.

Celtic may have decided that with a poor run in the game in the last couple of years he is not the man for the job anymore. He was once, but for many Celtic fans he missed his chance and his value has plummeted.

A left field entry on the list is Oscar Garcia. He took Brighton and Hove Albion to the play-off’s this year but was unsuccessful in the end.

The Championship is a competitive league and he did well to get Brighton into the play-off position. The fact that he chose to resign after such a short spell is surprising given that he did well with relatively limited experience.

He may be looking for a bigger club and Celtic are certainly that. Whether he could cut the mustard in Scotland I do not know but I do question his staying power given that he has left his two most recent jobs after only one season in charge.

Also in that play-off battle is Steve McLaren. Having made the final and losing to a late goal might he be looking to move on?

Love him or hate him he has bags of experience. He hasn’t made any signs of leaving Derby but he remains a possibility and given his coaching credentials oversess and at international level he is not to be sniffed at.

Lastly, there is Roy Keane, another ex-Celt whose name has been mentioned. His recruitment as a player, whilst totally unnecessary, was amother PR stunt that Celtic just couldn’t refuse.

Sunderland was his first venture into management where he won promotion to the Premier League in his first season. He kept Sunderland up during his second season but the season that followed saw a poor start and Keane eventually resigned.

With a character like Keane’s there was the usual controversy. Never afraid to speak his mind, his management style didn’t go down well with players and officials during his time there but that’s Roy Keane I guess.

Ipswich Town would be Roy’s second crack at management. It failed to develop into anything successful for him or the club during an eighteen month period and having falling down the league he was sacked.

He returned to coaching last year taking up the assistant managers role under Martin O’Neill for the Republic of Ireland’s national team. Although still a relationship in its infancy, it hasn’t prevented Keane’s name being mentioned with the Celtic job.

His opinions and temperament don’t always win him votes with people. Roy is never afraid to speak his mind though but whether Dermot Desmond sees Keane as the kind of character he wants to coach the team, the Kaiser will have the final say.

What Celtic require is someone who will stick around for a few years and make some progress. The league is almost certainly assured given the gap between Celtic and the rest of the SPFL clubs.

Whoever takes over will have to emulate that domination in the league. A more successful run in the cups would also be desirable.

Then there is Europe and with it the income that Celtic require. European nights at Celtic are what we as fans all crave and without those evenings the domestic season would be very dull.

Being involved in the Champions League group phase is essential. Qualifying from that stage and reaching the last sixteen is a target that can only be surpassed by repeating the journey year after year.

Only two Celtic managers have ever made the knockout phase in the current format of the tournament. The board may not expect that next season given the change in personnel, but surely progression in Europe is the objective that makes this all worth while?

On the other hand, Celtic may be looking overseas for someone who can tweak those European fortunes. Though it’s unlikely that the club will be able to obtain the services of a coach with an admirable CV without breaking the bank.

Celtic may play in Europe but as I have said before, there are limitations to what you can and can’t do and that includes attracting the right people and being able to pay the right money. Whoever the club appoint, it will clarify their ambitions and intentions.

They must move swiftly though. The World Cup begins soon and with it an opportunity to scout talent.

Ideally it would be best to appoint someone before then and get them preparing for the Champions League qualifier’s in July. In the past the club have been slow to elect a manager so I hope that they are actively seeking one now.

Peter Lawwell stated that the club haven’t begun their search. Personally, I find that hard to believe, this isn’t the public sector after all.

Lennon said leaving wasn’t a knee-jerk decision. I’m sure the board may have either been expecting it, or helping him wind things down.

The new manager will need the backing of the support and not just the board. It would be advisable to give him every chance to succeed by getting him on board now.

So let’s hope the club don’t waste too much time and make an announcement soon.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie

Below Par BBC

Wednesday nights UK coverage of Cliftonville v Celtic was disappointing. Broadcast availability and quality was a disappointing experience.

In an age where technology is so advanced you would think it was easy to catch a UK football match anywhere in the UK. I mean lets be honest here, there are no shortage of options for the BBC but is the BBC Sport website the best you can do nationwide?

I don’t have an issue (or an option) in paying my license fee. When the service the BBC provide is substandard, I do.

This is a regional network of course and has been for years. Getting hold of those regional broadcasts seems to be a big ask at times.

With iPlayer and BBC red button at our disposal you would think decent coverage and quality was at your fingertips? Well, nae luck.

BBC2 Scotland/Northern Ireland had the match live and as far as I know only Sky has the regional BBC2 channels. If you live in a UK region other than these two and don’t have Sky, you couldn’t tune in.

I have always been of the opinion that all television ‘national’ coverage is based upon London’s view of the entire UK. What I mean by this is that there is always a slant toward the south east mindset.

English politicians are always so keen to point out that we are “one nation”. Well, not if you live elsewhere in the UK.

When BBC and ITV are broadcasting England matches and those of their clubs, its a different story. I don’t ever recall having any problem tuning into these games when I lived in the homeland.

“Move back” I hear you say! Well, considering this was essentially a ‘Battle of Britain’ tie on the European scene, a little more respect could have been shown to make this available across the network.

Scotland and Northern Ireland may not have the same money to float a league such as the English ones. But lets not forget that the UK has Scots, Irish and Welsh living all over these isles.

Is it too much to ask for a match such as this to be on BBC2 nationwide? I’m sure it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but neither is an England v San Marino friendly shown in the Orkney.

The BBC website is an awful platform to be subjected to at home. It may be good on the move but watching some stuttering and pixelated coverage online at home is abysmal.

There’s a better chance of Alex Salmond saying something sensible than the BBC listening to viewers. What is the point of all these channels on digital if you cannot stump up one match for a few hours so we can all see it?

During the Olympic coverage in 2012, which I must say was fantastic, BBC had a full range of events being covered daily via the red button. One match for one evening should not be a huge ask.

I will, as always, continue to pay my license fee but I’d like to see the BBC do something with it that people want. Or perhaps I should blame Jimmy Saville for this and move on.

As ever….Hail! Hail!

Stevie

Well, well, well

Wouldn’t you know it? No sooner has David Moyes sworn in at Man United than Neil Lennon is top of the list to replace him at Everton.

Now I don’t know about you but I can’t see this post being of interest to Lennon. Not at this point in his career anyway.

Everton are a good club but they’ve achieved little in modern times. Sure, they’ve remained stable in a highly competitive league but for a decade Moyes has been the glue that’s held Everton them in that position.

Tight budgets are the norm for Everton these days. While this may be something that Lennon also has experience of, he is used to playing Europe now.

Perhaps this kind of role could lure Lennon in a few years time. In reality though, Lennon has much left to do at Celtic and he still is young so the opportunities are there for him in the future.

League titles, domestic trophies and Champions League are all a reality at Celtic Park. At Everton its about Premier League survival.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie

End of an era

When a giant figure leaves the scene forever, a new era is born. Now that Sir Alex Ferguson has announced his retirement, that time is now.

The news of his departure has engulfed the world of sport since the media broke the story. Ferguson did of course mention retirement around a decade ago, but nothing ever transpired until now.

At the ripe old age of 71, Ferguson is a legend of the game. His length of service and influence at Manchester United has gained respect around the football world and beyond.

In terms of the best managers in the world, particularly in Scotland and England, he is up there with the best. Many debate who is/was the best but at the end of the day it is a personal choice.

Firstly you have to have managed one of the few clubs who possess a certain bond with their fans and that club must also have a kind of ‘romance’ about it. Most of all though, you have to have made your mark in the world of football and taken the best prize of all – the European Cup.

Ferguson has done this and follows in the footsteps of those who he admired most in the game. They don’t make mangers like this any more, we live in a different age, particularly in the UK.

Money dominates the game these days and the game is now a business. The modern day supporter is a shadow of those who crammed into the terraces of yesteryear.

Galla signings, advertising, merchandise, TV rights and coverage are now staple in the game. Ferguson has witnessed these changes in his decades within football.

His legacy is that even in the modern day he taught a fair few opponents a lesson. More importantly he has gained their respect and influenced their own careers.

The gap that Ferguson leaves is not only going to be a hard hole to fill at Old Trafford. The experience he retires with leaves chasm in the game.

Its been said that David Moyes is Ferguson’s imminent replacement at Manchester United. There is no doubt that the former Celtic player and Preston manager is a respected figure in the Premier League, but is he the choice every United fan wants?

Moyes has been in charge at Everton for eleven years. He arrived at the end of the 2001-2002 season and finished 15th in the league.

In the four seasons that followed he would alternate between a top half and bottom half of the Premier League. For the next six season he would keep Everton in the top half of the table and in the current season he is set to do the same.

He has survived in the Premier League all this time on a tight budget which is to be admired. His experience of survival is perhaps sometimes overlooked due to fact he has won nothing with Everton.

If his appointment does eventually transpire as it is expected to today, many will see this as a ‘safe’ appointment. People will also call into question what that will bring to a club like Manchester United whose fans expect success at home and abroad.

When you thrust money into the hands of a good coach, which Moyes quite clearly is, you begin to wonder what the result might be. Good or bad this is an appointment that may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Although Moyes has been the front runner in the media for this vacancy, Jose Mourinho has been on the lips of many. The only reservation I would think that United have about Mourinho would be that it wouldn’t be about the club, but about himself.

That does not fit in with a club like United. It is a fans club and community but he remains an admirer of Ferguson and United.

Mourinho has always had money to spend. At United, he would be unlikely to get the financial freedom he is used to.

Moyes’ stability in the Premier League stands him in good stead. Any money he does get at United, will be more than he has been used to at Everton.

If he is indeed the man who is announced later today as the new United manager, then he obviously has the approval of Ferguson. Nobody in the UK knows the game more than he.

It’s fair to say he has lived and breathed the game, battled with the best and worn his heart on his sleeve. Having never been a United supporter, I have grown to respect Ferguson as a football man.

If he passes the torch of success to Moyes without the sort of sticky start that he had when he came to Manchester United, it will be a good beginning. The rest though…has yet to be written.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie