Much has been made of Sir Alex Ferguson’s touchline line ban by the FA after being found guilty of improper conduct. The ban will include United’s FA Cup semi final against Manchester City at Wembley on 16 April as well as the Premier League games against Bolton, West Ham, Fulham and Everton. The manager will however be back in the dugout for the crunch match with title rivals Arsenal in May. While the punishment may sound excessively harsh on Sir Alex for simply expressing his honest feelings in the compulsory post match interview, any damaging effect on the team’s performance will be minimal.
There is nothing to stop the manager from working with his players in the crucial days leading up to a game, he will still be able to give his normal dressing room pep talk before the team takes the field while his famous half time hair dryer outbursts for anything he’s unhappy with will still take place.
The only apparent negative effect will be Ferguson’s inability to take his usual place in the dugout – and even that can be debatable. Rest assured that there are many managers in world football who would much prefer to analyse the ebb and flow of a game from high in the stands rather than sitting on the bench. Modern technology allows them to remain in constant and immediate contact with their staff if any tactical tweaking is required during the game. So why don’t they? The only possible explanation is that managers are traditionally ‘expected’ to be part of the team in the dugout.
Whichever way you look at it, the outcome of a game does NOT depend on whether a manager is banned from the touchline or not. It makes you wonder if Ferguson’s punishment is more about sending a message to all managers that they must abide by the rules. The suits at the FA will serve the game far better if those rules are reconsidered instead.
There is absolutely no value to anyone if managers cannot give their honest opinions. It’s worth repeating the recent sensible comment made by Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp “It’s a problem which is easy to solve. If you don’t like the answers, don’t ask the questions”
Do you expect Ferguson’s ban to damage United?