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Manchester United legend and former captain Bryan Robson believes that his former side have the edge over neighbours Manchester City – and cited Sir Alex Ferguson’s zero-tolerance approach towards ill-disciplined players as the main reason between the two sides. Patrick Vieira spoke in the week about Paul Scholes and claimed that it was a ‘weakness’ on behalf of Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United for the midfielder’s return to the first team – overlooking the return of Carlos Tevez, who Roberto Mancini vowed would never play for the club again. Is it this type of ill-discipline that could prove the difference in the title run in?
Robson was quoted as saying:
“The Tevez saga, stories of Balotelli’s nights outs, Ferguson doesn’t allow it to happen in his club. He does man-management really well. That could be the biggest difference. You look at certain managers and you wonder, would they have left Rooney out? Ferguson had millions of injuries for that game – he was fielding a depleted team – but he still decided to leave Wayne out. The boss has shown that it doesn’t matter how good you are, you are not going to get away with it.”
He brings up some very good points. Rooney was dropped on New Year’s Eve for the fixture against Blackburn Rovers, where United were beaten 3-2. It is easy to state that Sir Alex should have included Rooney within the squad for a fixture that might have been different had United’s top goalscorer been on the field, however the bigger picture (and not to mention history) shows that all the players of any club need to know who the boss is, otherwise there are no boundaries – something that Robson is claiming Mancini fails to do with Balotelli and Tevez.
Ferguson has spoken before about “The manager being the most important person at a football club”, a quote that some might construe as arrogance. However, he is 100% correct – if there isn’t a commanding leader, someone in charge to state what is acceptable and what isn’t, then ‘your club is dead’, to quote Ferguson. I have no idea what Mancini’s management style is close up with players, whereas Ferguson’s has been documented in many books and documentaries. We saw Carlos Tevez cup his ears in celebrating a goal against West Ham at the end of the 2008/09 season, apparently aimed at the directors – something that Sir Alex laughed off, as he probably knew what was coming in the summer.
So is Robson right? Does Mancini have to be tougher with his players? Do Manchester United have the edge due to the way that Sir Alex deals with unruly players? Your thoughts are, as always most welcome in the comments box.