Yes, you read that right.
When the Man United manager announced his retirement this week, I couldn’t have been more indifferent if I was locked in a coma, inside a sensory-deprivation tank, on the third moon of Jupiter.
But like many Irish sports fans, I once avidly followed English soccer (or football, as Brits and weird Irish people call it). More specifically, I followed Liverpool.
I wrote this piece at the start of the 2001-’02 Premiership season. The sub-title ran, “He’s back! He’s angry! He still hates Man United and bleeds Liverpool, so don’t expect any pretence at fairness or impartiality!” That gives you some idea of where I was coming from.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: this is satire. Just a piece of fun, and not to be taken seriously. I don’t actually believe that Alex Ferguson sold his soul to the Devil*. Anyway, enjoy…
I wanted to start this Premiership preview on a high note, folks. I wanted to be able to stand up here on this page, wherever it is (it’s the front page, right, boss? You promised), and declare: “The Evil Empire shall reign no more! The glorious Age of the Scousers is upon us! All kneel in worship as Liverpool reclaim the league title and Man United finish a miserable seventh or eighth.”
I wanted to say this but couldn’t, and here’s why:
Up until the middle of July, next season’s Premiership was still some sort of a fair competition. You Know Who were still everyone’s favourites to win a record fourth consecutive championship, but Liverpool, Arsenal, Leeds and maybe one or two others harboured faint hopes of stealing the title.
Around the middle of July, though, Alex Ferguson went out and spent almost £50million on three players who’ve almost certainly guaranteed yet another league title will be winging its way towards Gold Trafford. Hell, thy name is Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Juan Sebastian Veron and Roy Carroll.
Oh, sorry – that should read, “Hell, thy three names are…” and repeat step one. The aforementioned gruesome threesome delivered a swift blow to the tender regions of anyone foolish, obstinate or insane enough to still believe anything other than a Man U triumph is possible this season. And why is this, apart from Fergie’s 50 squillion insurance policy in his last season?
Simple: it’s coz “Sir” Alex sold his soul to Satan in 1989. As exhaustively researched by yours truly and a small cabal of dedicated, albeit slightly disturbed, freedom-fighters, Ferguson couldn’t win a game of poker against a blind baboon with no hands – who had been bribed to lose by the Chicago mob – up until the end of the eighties. His expensively-assembled collection of mistakes, misfits and miscreants even flirted with relegation a few times.
Since 1990, though, the dude can’t put a Nike-tracksuited foot wrong. Every purchase has been a roaring success (with Jordi Cruyff and Massimo Taibi the exceptions that prove the rule), practically every trophy has been relentlessly annexed, every refereeing decision and jammy break of the ball has gone their way, and every ABU has been driven into a state of near apoplexy.
And you’re telling me that the Horned One isn’t involved here somewhere?
So it’s obvious that some sort of bizarre, terrifying pact was struck sometime around the end of ‘89, possibly involving chicken blood, the golden tresses of a young virgin and demonic incantations being spoken backwards. Hey, sounds like my regular Saturday night hoe-down to be honest, but the point is that, with Old Nick in their corner, the Red Menace are unbeatable, unbackable and un-freakin’-believable.
As for the wrong end of the table, I don’t know and don’t care who’s in line for the chop, so long as Middlesborough – who have been hanging around annoying everyone for far too long – finally suffer the relegation they so richly deserve.
So there you have it, my faithful children: I have spoken and it wast exceedingly good. Now go forth and spread the good word, and all you ABUs remember: your team may not win anything, but at least your soul will go to heaven when you die.
Amen, brothers and sisters. Amen.
*Or do I…?