The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.
We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.
Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.
The Premier League season never officially starts until Alex Ferguson bolts down a shot of sweet, sweet tabasco sauce and lays it on the press. Last year at this time, he went on an amazing tear over the course of about four days in which he argued for fewer foreigners in the Premier League, attacked security conditions at the Emirates, demanded a rewrite of substitution policy (given), and decreed that his players should paint his house. This year, however, he’s outdone himself.
In addition to escalating his campaign for an English winter break (ending in July, presumably, to recommence in August), he’s waging a multi-front war of words with Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA, and Ramón Calderón, the president of Real Madrid. The assault on Blatter, which looks back to Blatter’s infamous “modern slavery” diatribe during the Ronaldo transfer havoc in July, has seen the 66-year-old Sir Alex accuse the 72-year-old Blatter of senility (but wait…), being a laughingstock within world football, and having the power-madness of an African despot.
The struggle with Calderón, which also revolves around Madrid’s failed pursuit of Ronaldo during the summer, has seen Ferguson accuse the Madrid man of buying Gabriel Heinze (what?) only as a means of luring Ronaldo to Spain, compare Calderón to Franco, be accused by Calderón of senility (there it is), and retort by saying, first, Calderón is full of hot air, second, we’ve got Ronaldo and you don’t (nyah nyah), and third, I will not involve myself in this unseemly and disgraceful contretemps.
It’s been so fast and furious that when poor old Alfredo di Stefano briefly emerged from the woodwork to defend the honor of Madrid, Sir Alex didn’t even have time to release the usual terse statement on the club website comparing him to a troll, Captain Queeg, and the Gorgs on Fraggle Rock.
It’s on. This season is on. I hope Alex Ferguson stays in football forever.
by Brian Phillips · October 31, 2008