In Rant’s irregular series looking at the great British media’s coverage of Manchester United this week’s winner is The Times’ blogger Frank Praverman. One time Sun reporter Praverman falls into a common media trap, interpreting poor results as the permanent decline of Sir Alex Ferguson’s ’empire’, powers or – sometimes – mind.
In the aftermath of United’s exit to Bayern Munich in the Champions League last week Praverman, ridiculously, asks “Has time got the better of Ferguson?”
Questioning Ferguson’s performance if United’s season has ended somewhere around October last year, much like Liverpool’s, might be fair.
But while United’s results may not match those of the previous season, the Scot has led United to a Carling Cup victory and the Champions League quarter-final.
More to the point, United is still within a result of Chelsea at the head of the Premier League despite an extended injury list that has run to 12 first teamers.
Worse still Praverman insinuates that the team’s apparent decline is down to Ferguson’s age. The excuse the media has used for Fergie bashing in more than a decade.
“Is it not English football that is declining, but rather Ferguson’s team selection, his dealings in the transfer market and his tactics for the big games?” asks Praverman, who seems to have forgotten United actually beat Bayern Munich at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
“Have the younger, more innovative minds of Mourinho and Van Gaal finally overtaken the grand old master?”
Perhaps they have. After all ‘youthful’ Louis Van Gaal, 58, is still at least a couple of years away from his pension. Mind you, the Dutchman last won a trophy in one of the major leagues in 1998.
Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho’s sole Champions League victory came in 2004, aided as it was by the highly dubious decision to rule-out a perfectly good Paul Scholes goal at Old Trafford.
Not that Praverman will let facts get in the way of a good story.