QPR are winning 1-0 after 90 minutes. Fergie waves his watch at the stadium. The referee is now obliged to play “Fergie time” – until as long as it takes for United to score. We get to 97 minutes. The tension is intolerable.
“Hurry up. Ref! I’m missing Casualty,” observes a Hoops fan wittily. How we laugh. Not for long. Giggs crosses to Cantona, who scores, tweaks his collar and mocks us distraught fans. The referee can blow for time, Fergie can celebrate and we’re all doomed to permanent oblivion and the likes of Mr Harold Redknapp. My little daughters weep copiously all the way home.
“It’s not fair, dad!”
I know. Sir Alex wins again...
Doesn’t this make him a cheat? A bully? A Machiavellian nutter? Well, yes – but these qualities can be virtues in a headteacher.
We wet socialists sometimes need a thug. A bit of psychosis goes a long way. Fergie may be a bully, but he’s our bully. He’s red in politics, not just football. He’s a man of the people, who led a Clyde shipyard strike. He’s Old Labour and no fan of the Tories.
Mrs Thatcher? “Never associate me with that woman!” David Cameron? “Weak under pressure.” And he does seem to have the softer qualities. A head of Fergie’s old school, Govan High in Glasgow, told me of a visit Fergie once made to his alma mater. He was patient, funny, charming, compassionate and wise.
Perhaps I am being naïve. Sentimental. Whatever. Headteachers need the dark arts too – those menacing pauses, that blank, unforgiving gaze and that threat of an erratic and incendiary rage. The dreaded Hairdryer. I could never do that stuff. I could never make Dave Mania quake in his boots. I wish I could have sent him to see headteacher Fergie. If you can deal with Wayne Rooney, Dave Mania is a pushover.
Perhaps Sir Alex could be persuaded to be shadow minister of education? It would be squeaky-bum time for Michael Gove or the Lord Ofsted. Now there are some proper bullies. Aren’t you weary of getting shafted by this lot? Sir Alex would see them off, like he’s seen off City. Couldn’t we have a Fergie cardboard cut out in our classrooms? We’d zoom up the league table. Exam results would improve. The Invigilator would be on Fergie time.
“You have five minutes left – or as long as it takes...”