Alex Ferguson is one of the most respected coaches or managers, as they call it in England, in world football. Since 1986 Sir Alex has been behind the success of Manchester United, but this week he did something for which most other coaches would have been fired. While Manchester United were facing English Championship side Scunthorpe United away at Glanford Park in a Carling Cup match, the manager was down in Spain watching FC Valencia in action against Atletico Madrid in preparation for next weeks UEFA Champions League match.
Hearing about such an incidence people are bound to ask questions. Manchester United not only didn't have their chief coach at the ground but also played a totally different first eleven from the team which beat FC Liverpool over the weekend. So is the Carling Cup unimportant to the defending champions compared to the UEFA Champions League? One is bound to think so.
Over the years I have heard that assistant coaches and chief scouts have gone to watch upcoming opponents, even on match days, but never ever have I heard that a chief coach has left his team to himself scout and analyse one his clubs next opponents. The current match is always more important then upcoming games. I guess only someone with the standing of Sir Alex can do something like this. Or can you think that Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid) or Louis van Gaal (Bayern Munich) leave their teams to be coached by their assistants and they watch an upcoming opponent. Never ever would clubs as big as Real Madrid and Bayern Munich allow this to happen except in an emergency situation.
But it also shows the difference of a manager like they have in English football and a chief coach as we have here in Europe on the continent. Surely there are all powerful coaches like Jose Mourinho or Felix Magath who try to control everything, but in continental Europe you have a sports director or sports manager to assist the coach with the off field work and activities. I have even been told that Ferguson doesn't even attend all training sessions, some he follows from his office window.
Surely a different approach. And I was surprised that it didn't create bigger headline news that Manchester United were playing without their manager. They won 5-2 and maybe it would have made bigger news if Manchester United had lost. But we will never know...