Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson leaves the pitch after his side's loss to Basel.

RUMOUR has it that the Manchester United players boarded their flight back to Manchester with perfect, shiny hair.

But I think even my rapidly receding hairline would have been given a lift by the alleged “hairdryer” treatment dished out by Alex Ferguson after the match. The shine was probably because of all the chewing gum juices that escaped his mouth in the verbal assault.

Wednesday night must have been one of the worst nights for Ferguson during his long tenure as United boss. Being knocked out of the Champions League by a team who share a name with a herb, in a country more renowned for its chocolates than football, is rather embarrassing.

At least the “noisy neighbours” also didn’t make it. A few people tweeted that it seemed that the fastest way to get out of Europe is via Switzerland and Italy.

Jackie Selebi would probably love to be in Switzerland right now, though, rather than wearing an orange jump suit.

I’m glad United didn’t wear orange on Wednesday, because it would have taken some of the focus off their poor display against a team whose wages are probably the equivalent of Wayne Rooney’s weekly package.

United showed as much creativity as Julius Malema in a garden shed with a piece of timber. They looked a tired team, with no real fire and purpose. The lads from Basel, though, were hungry, and they had a stage to shock the world.

And that is what football is all about – desire and drive. Probably two parts of the game that has kept Ferguson in the game for this long.

Unfortunately, his team didn’t have the same mentality on the field. But could that just be an indication of Ferguson’s mentality off it? Does the “Guv’nor” still have that fire in the belly that has made him the most successful club manager of all time?

They call stoppage time “Fergie time” when United are behind. For some, that means the referee will only blow the final whistle once United score. But for me, it’s the time when they are at their most dangerous. And how many times haven’t we seen the Red Devils snatch a victory or a draw at the death?

But this season, in particular on Wednesday night, Ferguson hasn’t looked his fiery self, a man who turns red and leaves his chewing gum seeking therapy.

Don’t get me wrong, United tried to go for the equaliser against Basel. But did they ever look like they were going to get it? I hate to say it, but they didn’t.

Thursday night football await supporters of Manchester United and Manchester City. A night when Fergie normally kicked back, opened a bottle of red wine and watched the likes of Tottenham and Liverpool.

But maybe he has been thinking of kicking back on a permanent basis. Maybe he is thinking of finally packing away the gum. Thursday night football isn’t made for him or United, and maybe this was the sign he was looking for to help him make up his mind and retire. It will indeed be a sad day, but a day that will be arriving sooner rather than later.


Liverpool supporters, well, went crazy on Wednesday night when Manchester United were knocked out of the Champions League. The tweets and status updates on Facebook went on until the wee hours of yesterday morning. I must admit, I had a few digs as well. But my language was rather more acceptable than some of the Reds’ fans. It’s not nice to rejoice over other people’s misery, especially if you are not even playing in the same competition, or even in the one United are going to be part of next year, the Europa League.

So, Liverpool fans, rather wait for your club to win something of value or qualify for the Champions League before you have a go at other teams with distasteful remarks.


@piersmorgan (talk show host, reality TV judge and massive Arsenal fan): If you fancy some Champions League Football Samir Nasri – you can come with me at the Emirates?

@13Szczesny13 (Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny on the potential hairdryer treatment the Manchester United players got from Alex Ferguson after the match): I would not like to be in the ManUtd dressing room right now.


@TelkomKnockout: If you are being dragged by the nose to some sort of Christmas party, you can follow tomorrow’s big final between Orlando Pirates and Bidvest Wits live here.

Twitter: @Anchorman82

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