For most Malaysians, 8 May 2013 will forever be remembered as a day when throngs of thousands braved the late evening showers and gathered…. UNITED in heart and spirit, not as Malays, Chinese, Indians or Bumiputeras, but as Malaysians…. UNITED in ONE Suara Rakyat.
However, for all Mancunians, 8 May 2013 will also forever be remembered as the day Sir Alex Ferguson (SAF) made his official announcement to retire as manager of Manchester United. After 26 years of building up a Red Empire that conquered England for a period spanning at least 2 decades, SAF tearfully decided to call it quits.
For someone widely regarded as the most successful football manger EVER, there is arguably SO MANY things we can learn and follow. So, in the light of the recently concluded General Elections in Malaysia, I thought it would be a good idea to reflect on some of the lessons or character of SAF that would be most exemplary to all politicians and ministers of both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat…
1. Be a Champion Loser – It is a well-known fact that SAF is someone that truly respects his opponents on and off the field. It has been recorded that one of his best known gestures of football management is to share a bottle of wine to congratulate his opponent in a big match or at the end of the season if he was the loser. He shared it with Wenger during those battling seasons with Arsenal and also with Mourinho in Porto’s dressing room after the Portugese sides shock upset over Man Utd in the UCL. Wouldn’t it be cool if our politicians have that same level of fierce confrontations on field but sincere respect and friendship off the field? Hmmmmm.
2. Dare to Cut Names – During his tenure at United, SAF is also well known to drill his philosophy that “no player is more important than the club!” If there were players who had crossed the line for disciplinary problems or non-performance, SAF would have no hesitation to drop them from the squad or (worse) sell them off! I remembered there was a time when Rooney had a fantastic stretch of games going but suddenly he got involved in some drunk driving and partying. Although the games that lie ahead were crucial, SAF benched Rooney for 3 matches (if I remember correctly)! Have our political parties reached that maturity to drop or cut off their members who are plain liabilities and do not have the heart to serve the rakyat?
3. Never Give Up! – I have seriously lost count of the number of times Manchester United have fought back or scored in crunch time (aka final 15 minutes of the game + err..Fergis time, of course..:-P). The club wouln’t have been able to amass so many trophies if it weren’t for this indescribable desire to fight on till the final whistle. Who could forget the “Football…Bloody Hell!” moment at the Nou Camp in 1999 with two goals at the death won SAF his first Champion’s League trophy? Likewise, for politicians or parties that have lost the votes or seat, my advise is to continue to serve the rakyat and Never Give Up!
4. Have a Personal Touch – One of the things I admired most about SAF was his willingness to be personally involved in any player deals – especially the high profiled ones. 😛 In his biography, stories are shared about how SAF would personally visit the players the club would buy next, to the level of visiting them in their homes! How nice if our politicians emphasised more on serving the rakyat at the grassroots, giving a personal touch in the areas or constituency they are serving?
5. Focus on Youth and Build a Legacy – One of the key football management elements of SAF is his penchant to build up a youth system to unearth and develop talent for the future of the club. Of course, there are times he would simply just BUY the talent but YOUTH remains a priority. The endless crop of players like Beckham, the Neville brothers, Butt, Scholes, Giggs to the current batch of Welbeck, Cleverly, Buttner, Young, Hernandez is testament to SAF’s solid youth-development policy. Eventually, this would lead to the formation of a very strong squad to leave behind to his successor when he leaves. SAF is genius in this way that he doesn’t want to abandon a ship that is in tatters but one that is still strong and powerful. An extract from his retirement speech:
“It was important to me to leave an organization in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so,” Ferguson said. “The quality of this league winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level whilst the structure of the youth setup will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains a bright one.”
Has our political parties thought of succession planning and developing youth in their agenda? If not, they should quickly learn from SAF.