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 manager of Manchester United is a jewel of many facets, but my own favorite side of Alex Ferguson isn’t the Spain-baiting, the referee-abusing, the media-manipulating, or the dossier-compiling: it’s the problem-solving side, the part of the man’s brain that looks at an issue like substitution policy or the lack of a winter break and actually devises a solution rather than simply complaining about the way things are.
That’s why I’m not surprised that he’s written a letter to the editor of the Manchester Evening News lending his support to a local transportation plan. If he can spend his days solving fixture congestion, why shouldn’t he spend his evenings addressing the infrastructure problems plaguing Greater Manchester?
Here’s the text of his letter in full.
AFTER the football itself, the comfort and safety of supporters is paramount for all clubs and their managers.
Millions of journeys are made by fans each year to watch their club play both home and away.
Our supporters include the young and the old, families, disabled people and many without cars who rely solely on public transport to get them where they want to go.
Every season we are hosts to visiting fans from all over the country and, for those clubs fortunate to qualify for European competitions, we welcome thousand of foreign supporters too. Most of these visitors use public transport to get to our stadiums and we want their visit to be a good advert for the region. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression!
The proposed investment in Greater Manchester’s public transport network will make getting to games safer, faster and more enjoyable for all our supporters and visitors.
Better bus services, the new Metrolink lines, longer, more frequent trains, new stations and simpler, integrated ticketing will all make match-day travel a better experience.
All our clubs work in their local communities and we particularly welcome the news that all the new buses and trams will have better access for disabled people and parents with prams and buggies.
The huge increase in yellow school buses will be a great help too, as they will be made available for school visits and events. More children should be able to take part in the soccer schools, homework clubs and many other activities we put on throughout the year.
The TIF proposals offer a once in a lifetime opportunity to put Greater Manchester in the premier league for public transport – so don’t score an own goal – VOTE YES for safe, fast and convenient match-day travel and make sure all Greater Manchester people get the public transport they need and deserve.
That’s why I am saying YES to this campaign.
Sir Alex Ferguson
I’d normally assume that he didn’t write the letter himself, that the entire thing was coordinated by the club to sway public opinion toward some favorable outcome. But then there’s “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression,” a slightly reworded dandruff-shampoo slogan from the 1980s that seems relatively unlikely to have occurred to a Man Utd public relations officer in the act of composing this letter. I’d like to believe Sir Alex acted alone on this one, maybe closing the door of his study and feeding a sheet into the IBM Selectric before pouring himself a Scotch. Old people write letters to the editor, don’t they? This could have happened, right?
by Brian Phillips · December 1, 2008