It’s no wonder he looks grumpy: ‘Hideous’ blobfish is crowned the world’s ugliest animal | Mail Online
It’s no wonder he looks grumpy: ‘Hideous’ blobfish is crowned the world’s ugliest animal
A living blob of jelly that dwells in the darkest depths of the ocean has been officially named the world’s ugliest animal.
The blobfish, described as ‘hideous’ by Simon Watt from the Ugly Animal Preservation Society, is a jelly-like fish that resembles a bald, grumpy old man.
Measuring up to a foot in length, it lives between 600 and 1,200 metres below the ocean surface off the coasts of Australia and Tasmania.
The blobfish, described as ‘hideous’ by Simon Watt from the Ugly Animal Preservation Society, measures up to a foot in length. It lives between 600 and 1,200 metres below the ocean surface off the coasts of Australia and Tasmania
Despite being completely inedible, it has a habit of being hauled up in trawler nets.
Experts believe the blobfish is under serious threat, although there are no reliable estimates of its numbers.
‘We’ve needed an ugly face for endangered animals for a long time,’ said Mr Watt, speaking at the British Festival of Science at the University of Newcastle.
The Axolotl, a freaky cross between Peter Pan and the Xmen, is endangered because of urbanisation in Mexico City and polluted waters
‘For too long the cute and fluffy animals have taken the limelight but now the blobfish will be a voice for the mingers who always get forgotten.’
The blobfish topped a shortlist of five ugly animals voted for online by members of the public.
In second place was the Kakapo, a critically endangered giant parrot from New Zealand, and number three was the Axolotl, a weird type of salamander from Mexico that is the equivalent of a giant tadpole.
Next on the list was the Titicaca water frog, aka the ‘scrotum frog’, which is only found in Lake Titicaca on the border of Peru and Bolivia.
The Titicaca frog, also known as the ‘scrotum frog’, is found on the border of Peru and Bolivia. Locals make a frappe of the frog, which is considered an aphrodisiac, by cooking it and running it through a blender
Kakapo is a classic example of evolution on an isolated island – it is the only flightless parrot in the world, and also the heaviest
The Proboscis monkey is named after its enormous nose
Locals make a frappe of the unfortunate frog, which is considered an aphrodisiac, by cooking it and running it through a blender.
The last ugly animal is the proboscis monkey, from Borneo, whose enormous nose is literally its hooter.
The nose provides a resonating echo chamber for the monkey’s deafening mating calls.
The Ugly Animal Preservation Society was set up to champion the cause of endangered creatures with no friends.
It is backed by a number of celebrity scientists, presenters and comedians, and organises road shows and school visits.
Particle physicist and broadcaster Professor Brian Cox said: ‘I support the ugly animal campaign. There are too many people trying to save cute animals. They get all the press, and all the attention.
‘Ugly animals are more deserving than cute animals.’
Describing the blobfish, Mr Watt said: ‘Indeed this is an ugly hideous thing. It looks sad and so it should, because it’s suffering from severe problems.
‘They’ve got a really gelatinous flesh that is slightly more buoyant than the water. So they float around and they can be right lazy.
‘They’ve got no muscle tone whatsoever because they don’t have to move. They just sit there looking unhappy, grabbing any food that comes by.
‘It’s the ultimate deep sea couch potato.’
MORE OF THE WORLD’S UGLIEST ANIMALS
European common eel
A favourite cockney snack, the European eel is threatened by overfishing and environmental changes. Its unusual life cycle sees it change colour as it grows, from transparent to yellow to dark grey.
Rob Wells (comedian and science presenter) – urges supporters to ‘support the eel so we can have a jolly good East End knees up in its honour!’
European common eel: A favourite cockney snack, the European eel is threatened by overfishing and environmental changes. Its unusual life cycle sees it change colour as it grows, from transparent to yellow to dark grey
Dromedary jumping slug
The dromedary jumping slug wriggles its way out of danger, avoiding predators with a quick flick. It’s part of the Aronidae family and lives mainly in the Americas.
Tom Toal (comedian and actor) thinks the slug deserves far more recognition than it currently gets… ‘It’s a slug, with a hump on its back, that can jump! Where’s its Disney movie?? You’ve got the Hunchback of Notre Dame… where’s the dromedary jumping slug and the princess?’
Dromedary jumping slug: The dromedary jumping slug wriggles its way out of danger, avoiding predators with a quick flick. It’s part of the Aronidae family and lives mainly in the Americas
Greater short-horned lizard
Stephen Fry is supporting this feisty little lizard, found in North America. The greater short-horned lizard is identified by its toad-like appearance. When scared, it builds its blood pressure near its eyes, and forces blood through its tear ducts, squirting it at predators. Combined with a noxious smell, the blood is a surprisingly effective method of repelling predators such as foxes, coyotes and dogs.
Great short horned lizard: Stephen Fry is supporting this feisty little lizard, found in North America. The greater short-horned lizard is identified by its toad-like appearance
The pig-nosed turtle is the sole surviving member of an ancient and once widespread family of animals. The most unique feature is the elongated, pig-like snout, which acts like a snorkel, allowing the turtle to breathe while the rest of the body remains underwater (perhaps so it never has to show the world its ugly face?).
Greg Foot (daredevil scientist and C4 Sunday Brunch’s ‘resident scientist’) says: ‘Forget your big cuddly attention grabbing pandas. It’s time for something else to step up into the limelight, well, I guess something to swim up in this case! Yes, it is the pig-nosed turtle… so there you go – the pig-nosed turtle. Vote now! It’s quite clear it’s got to be the pig-nosed turtle. No longer does he need to be bullied in the animal playground, he can now stand there with his piggy snouty nose raised up high.’
Pig-nosed turtle: The most unique feature of the animal is the elongated, pig-like snout, which acts like a snorkel, allowing the turtle to breathe while the rest of the body remains underwater
Pubic lice have been around for over 3 million years but face extinction because of increasing hygiene habits across the world. They live in coarse hair and eyelashes.
Dan Schreiber (producer, presenter and from QI Elf) explains why he has sympathy for these particularly unattractive beasts… ‘So many women worldwide are having Brazilians that they don’t have a natural habitat to exist on anymore… they’re being deforested!’
Pubic louse: Pubic lice have been around for over 3 million years but face extinction because of increasing hygiene habits across the world. They live in coarse hair and eyelashes
There are 18 varieties of bat in the UK, and most are in national decline. Seventeen of these are currently known to be breeding, the eighteenth is actually just one lone male who appears to have come over from the continent and lives in a cave in South England on his own. Bats make up over a quarter of the mammal species that live in the UK and can often be found near railway lines, as they like to use the tunnels as roosting areas, and short cuts to other hunting grounds.
Simon Watt sympathises with these species: ‘Bats are brilliant, if you cannot see all the reasons British bats are fantastic, you must be as blind as a, well, as a bat actually!’
Simon Watt sympathises with these species: ‘Bats are brilliant, if you cannot see all the reasons British bats are fantastic, you must be as blind as a, well, as a bat actually!’
You’ve bitten off more than you can chew! Lion cub causes uproar… by chomping on its dad in a bid to make him play
This is the moment an attention seeking cub annoyed his father once too often.
The cheeky cub can be seen tugging on his father’s mane, chewing on his fur and even smacking him on the end of the nose in a bid to entice him to play.
But while the father initially returned his son’s affections, he soon lost patience with the playful cub and snapped – baring his teeth at the startled cub.
I warned you, boy… Luke the lion makes it clear he has had enough of his son’s fun and games
The images were taken by photographer Paul Sutherland, 54, at the National Zoological Park in Washington, Columbia, US.
He said: ‘I’m connected with a number of people at the zoo and they invited me to come along when the lion cubs were born.
‘Having been an editorial photographer I like to create images which tell a story or send a message.
‘I spent a lot of time photographing the cubs, I went whenever I could. Every time the cubs came out there was a question mark over what they would do.
The cheeky cub can be seen tugging on his father’s mane, chewing on his fur and even smacking him on the end of the nose
So much for my lie-in: Luke’s nap is a no-no as far as the youngster is concerned
Seriously, son, take the hint: Luke looks like he is enjoying a cuddle…but that out-stretched paw is getting ready to swipe
‘When the adult male lion, Luke, is in the yard the cubs come out with the female lions.
‘Interestingly many of the cubs head straight for dad, they’re like "hey dad look at me".
‘The cubs would jump on Luke to try and get his attention, just being playful really.
‘But if Luke is grumpy he’ll roar and as he does the mother lion gives him a telling off. He’s a bit of a wimp compared to other lions so if he gets a telling off he’ll tolerate the cubs a little longer.
‘They would get five to ten minutes’ interaction with dad before he would get tired and there’d be a roar.
‘And if one of the cubs would make the mistake of grabbing his tail, Luke would get really angry.
‘It’s really just nature in action. Humans do it too. You annoy your dad that much, he’ll snap and be like "that’s enough".’
Right, that’s it! The cub takes a bite out of Luke’s chin… and he’s not happy about it
Fine, I’ll leave you alone! The cub retreats to safety… still with a look of mischief about it
Inside North Korea’s brutal prison camps
Prisoner Shin was beaten, starved, tortured and treated as a slave. Miraculously he escaped and survived to tell the tale
The North Korean military has put on a lavish display to mark the anniversary of the armistice which ended the Korean War. But despite the truce nearly 60 years ago, North Korea is still seen as a volatile nation. It has been condemned by other countries for its nuclear testing programme and its record of human rights violations – in particular its use of brutal prison camps. One man who knows all about the country’s abuse of human rights is Shin Dong-hyuk – the only man born inside a North Korean prison camp who managed to escape. His story has been documented in a book ‘Escape from Camp 14′ by journalist Blaine Harden. Here the author offers Yahoo! News a startling picture of what life is like in notoriously secretive North Korea.
A naked Shin was hung from the ceiling by his arms and legs, his body in the shape of a U. Just a boy at the time, he was lowered by a winch towards a tub of burning charcoal. Crazed with pain, he smelled his burning flesh. A guard then pierced his stomach with a hook on a pole and held him over the fire until he lost consciousness. This was just one instance of the brutal torture Shin experienced and witnessed at Camp 14 – one of North Korea’s inhumane prison camps.
American Journalist Blaine Harden spent years trying to gain the trust of Shin, now in his late 20s, so that his story could be told. He tells us: "The purpose of writing the book is to grab people by the throat and explain how North Korea operates and Shin’s story does that so well because no one has told it before."
Shin is the only person to be born in a prison camp who has escaped and lived to tell the tale.
His only crime? Being related to his father’s brothers who escaped to South Korea after the Korean War in the 1950s. There are people like Shin who were born in the camps and never allowed to leave and others, considered defectors, who are either there for ‘rehabilitation’ – or more likely until they die.
Harden says: "They can arrest anybody they want, for any reason, without any charge and take them away in the middle of the night and never tell them why they were taken."
The camps have been around since the late 1950s and Harden says they have always operated in almost exactly the same way. He says: "There is an incredible culture of brutality. Working people to death, usually by the time they’re in their mid-40s, they have executions, guards who are at liberty to murder, rape and torment the prisoners without any sanctions against them. They are taught to regard the prisoners as pigs and dogs. They can rape them, impregnate them, kill the babies and kill the women. They can also beat children to death if they’re in the mood."
A female North Korean soldier looks out from behind a barbed-wire fence around a camp (PA)
A total of 60 former camp inmates have told their stories to human rights investigators. Harden explains how those interviews, carried out separately across a decade, tell a remarkably consistent story about how the camps operate, what life is like, who lives, who dies, why and how.
Shin was starved, beaten and raised as a slave in a culture of disclosure and reward. He reported his mother and brother for plotting an escape which ultimately led to their execution.
Harden says: "How Shin was raised in the camp is an example of the sort of mentality that is spread across the country. There are about 170,000 secret police in North Korea. They are in virtually every apartment block, every village. They are there to incentivise people to snitch on each other. And children, relatives and friends do snitch on each other."
An estimated 200,000 people are detained in prison camps and there are fears the camps are growing. Satellite images show the existence of the camps, yet North Korea still denies their presence to the rest of the world.
But people in North Korea know the camps exist. "They know that every once in a while people disappear into the night – an entire family," says Harden. "And they know if they speak out there’s a chance that they could join them."
North Korean female soldiers on parade in Pyongyang (Reuters)
People may be scared into silence but they are armed with more knowledge. Despite its extravagant ceremonial parades and military displays, North Korea is poor. Times are hard and although the Kim family rulers have tried to isolate the notoriously secretive country from the rest of the globe, censoring media, preventing access to the internet and effectively starving the populace of information, knowledge about the wealth and freedoms in the outside world has seeped through into this totalitarian state.
More electronic products such as DVDs, radios and USB sticks are crossing the border illegally, primarily from China, and the number of radios that can tune into outside radio stations has increased. A recent survey of all defectors who have fled the country revealed that while in North Korea, 60 per cent were able to listen to outside radio stations on a daily basis.
Harden says: "They know more about the outside world but their ability to act on it and interact with each other based on the new information they have is not changing very much at all. There’s no civil society inside North Korea. People do not get together. They cannot meet in more than groups of three or four anywhere and people cannot travel easily within the country so they are socially and politically atomised."
Harden believes that life may have actually got worse under new leader Kim Jong-Un, who was declared the ‘Supreme Leader’ of North Korea at the end of 2011 following the death of his father.
He says: "It seems to have gone backwards in some ways. The border has been effectively closed down, people are not crossing or fleeing the country. The number of defectors arriving in South Korea has been cut significantly in the past year. Kim Jong-Un recognised that having this porous border was allowing people to go off and tell stories to human rights people and he wanted to end it. The Government has lost none of its appetite for cruelty."
Propaganda is also used incessantly and it is extremely powerful. Pictures of the ‘great’ and ‘dear’ leader Kim Jong-Un are everywhere and the state owned Central News Agency is the sole news provider in the country, ensuring the publication and broadcast of specific messages, including verbal attacks on America and South Korea.
Harden says: "They teach people that the US in particular, South Korea and Japan are plotting to murder them, to bomb them to kill their children – and there are some good reasons for North Koreans to believe it. During the Korean War the Americans bombed North Korea. They destroyed virtually every city, town and village, including about 85 per cent of the structures.”
Harden states that every single person in the country had a relative killed in the war. "That is sold and resold in the state propaganda about why you need the Kim family to protect you."
[North Korean defector's 'impossible' dream of closing prison camps]
Shin was not subject to the propaganda. There was no use for propaganda for the prisoners born in the camps. They have no choices. They are put to work, then they die. For the rest of the population though it’s a highly effective method of control.
Despite all this, Harden is optimistic change will occur in North Korea. The UN has authorised a human rights investigation into the camps, amid denials from the country’s UN ambassador Sin Son-ho, who recently asserted ‘we don’t have any human rights problems’.
Harden says: "They are surrounded by a booming China and an absolutely amazing South Korea which is one of the fastest growing economies, one of the most wired places in the world and Japan. They’re getting poorer and their options are fewer. As more information seeps into the country, the contradictions become sharper, so change has to happen."
Shin is one of many who dares to hope he is right.
Nermin Oomer – Fri, Aug 2, 2013
It is the year 2013 and this is happening in our world today…
shame on us…..shame on the world for letting this happen……..jboy2244
North Korea’s Prison Camps Are Absolutely Horrifying
North Korean Prison Camp 22
As international leaders fear what Pyongyang may do beyond its borders, perhaps the biggest issue is what happens within.
North Korea operates a growing network of prison camps containing up to 200,000 prisoners in conditions likened by survivors to Nazi concentration camps. This atrocity gains little international attention, though the United Nations Human Rights Council is considering a formal inquiry for possible crimes against humanity.
Information about the camps is limited to reports from the few successful escapees, notably Shin Dong-hyuk, who told 60 Minutes about spending 23 years behind the wire.
Although there are no pictures from inside the camps, satellite images plus a set of illustrations supposedly done by a defector (the source of these images is unconfirmed) give a hint of the terror inside.
Warning: Some images are disturbing.
There are over 24 million people living inside North Korea.
But there are between 150,000 and 200,000 who have ‘disappeared’. They live in brutal concentration camps throughout the country.
Source: Committee for Human Rights in North Korea
Former prisoners say conditions are so bad that 20 to 25 percent of the prison population dies every year.
Source: Committee for Human Rights in North Korea
The North uses guilt by association to lock up entire families just for knowing someone convicted of "wrong thought."
Stephanie T. Kleine-Ahlbrandt
Source: Committee for Human Rights in North Korea
Shin Dong-hyuk was born inside one camp, and lived there 23 years before he was able to escape.
Successful escapes have been few. That’s because anyone who tries, plans, or has knowledge of an escape is executed, and all prisoners are required to watch.
Starvation is common, as prisoners are usually only fed gruel made of cornmeal and cabbage. "We were always hungry, and the guards always told us ‘through hunger you will repent,’" Shin said. They often eat rats and insects just to stay alive.
Without protein and calcium in their diet, prisoners develop hunchbacks from bending over in the fields or lose toes and fingers due to frostbite.
The guards are relentless in their brutality.
They often terrorize and torture their captives, sometimes just for fun, according to escapees.
The tip of one of Shin’s fingers was chopped off as punishment for accidentally breaking a machine while working in a factory.
When he was just 13 years old, Shin was sent to an underground torture center when his mother and older brother were accused of attempting an escape. "They hung me by the ankles and they tortured me with fire."
All of the methods of torture are appalling — but some are more disturbing than others.
And women aren’t afforded any leniency.
Pregnancy is strictly forbidden, except in the case of a ‘marriage’ arranged by the prison guards.
Prisoners are categorized as their conditions deteriorate …
… While guards and party officials are treated well for their dedication to the regime.
But if prisoners can make it past guards and electrified fences …
They still need to get across the border to China, and if discovered, they face the possibility of being sent back.
While North Korea denies they even exist, satellite imagery shows camps scattered around the country, and they are growing.
Source: Amnesty International
And for North Koreans outside the camps, the fear of the gulag ensures their loyalty to the regime …
AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin
… And Kim Jong-un’s complete power over his own people.
North Korean leaders
Scotland Yard detectives to return to holiday resort where Madeleine McCann vanished ‘within days’ to follow up new leads | Mail Online
Scotland Yard detectives to return to holiday resort where Madeleine McCann vanished ‘within days’ to follow up new leads
New leads: Scotland Yard detectives could travel to Portugal in the coming days to follow up on new leads in the case of missing Madeleine McCann (pictured)
Detectives searching for Madeleine McCann could fly to the Portuguese holiday resort where the youngster went missing within days to follow up on new leads.
Metropolitan Police officers could potentially interview suspects, search properties and even make arrests in the Algarve where Madeleine disappeared while on a family holiday in 2007.
The Crown Prosecution Service has written a Letter of Request to Portuguese judges this week asking for permission to work in the country to gather evidence alongside local police.
According to the Daily Mirror, the letter included the names of some of the suspects that police wish to speak to regarding the case and an outline of a number of offences being investigated.
Madeleine went missing from an apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007, as her parents dined with friends at a nearby tapas restaurant.
The shambolic Portuguese inquiry was shelved in 2008, but Scotland Yard began a Home Office-funded review in 2011 – known as Operation Grange – following the intervention of David Cameron.
The Met said earlier this month that it was preparing to swoop on 38 suspects ‘scattered across Europe’ after announcing a full criminal investigation.
Among them are a dozen British nationals who were visiting or living in the Algarve at the time the then three-year-old went missing.
Investigators said that they have no prime suspects but said that they had found no evidence that the youngster had been murdered.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, who is leading the inquiry, said: ‘We continue to believe that there is a possibility that Madeleine is alive.’
Crime scene: The Ocean Club Resort in Praia da Luz where Madeleine went missing in 2007
New hope: Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry McCann welcomed the Met’s announcement that it had new leads earlier this month
The Met’s announcement came toward the end of a two year £5million review of the case which officers said has created a ‘unique picture’ of what happened in the Algarve.
Hopeful: Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said that police have no evidence that Madeleine was murdered
Mr Redwood said the painstaking review has brought together all the information about Madeleine for the first time.
He said: ‘That has given us the ability to see this case with fresh eyes, and through that bring out new – genuinely new – lines of inquiry.
‘I’m hopeful that when we pursue those lines of inquiry, we will be able to bring some sort of resolution.
‘Whether we will be able to solve it is a different issue, but I hope we will be able to have the ability to move the investigation on.
‘I believe that this is an important moment for Madeleine. It is a great opportunity which we intend to exploit to the full.’
A Met Police spokesman refused to comment on when detectives will be sent to Portugal as part of the investigation and the CPS was unavailable for comment.
Prime Minister David Cameron had ordered the review of the case back in 2011.
Wimbledon – Murray tames Djokovic to end 77 years of British hurt
Andy Murray ended Britain’s 77-year wait for a men’s Wimbledon champion with a 6-4 7-5 6-4 win over world number one Novak Djokovic.
Eurosport – 37 minutes ago
Scotland’s world number two unsettled Serbia’s 2011 champion Djokovic from an epic opening game, coming back from breaks down in the second and third sets, before fending off a brave fightback while serving for the match as he claimed his finest career victory.
Murray won last year’s US Open to end what was then a 76-year wait for a British male Grand Slam champion; he is now the first Briton of either gender to win Wimbledon since Virginia Wade in 1977, and the first male since Fred Perry in 1936.
"It feels slightly different to last year," Murray said in reference to his tearful defeat in the 2012 final. "I don’t know how I managed to get through that last game – losing three match points was unbelievable. It was hard to watch but imagine playing it!
"Novak has come back so many times from similar positions and he almost did it again."
The beaten world number one was typically sportsmanlike at the trophy presentation.
"Congratulations to Andy, who absolutely deserved this win – you played incredible tennis," Djokovic said. "I know how much it means to all of you guys, the whole country, well done.
"I’m aware of the pressure he gets, although I cannot imagine the extent not being in his shoes.
"It was an absolute pleasure and an honour to be part of this final."
Murray was exceptional at times but, by contrast, Djokovic had one of his worst games on Centre Court.
On the hottest day of the year in Britain, with the mercury soaring toward 30 degrees Celsius, the world’s two best players produced some scorching sinew-stretching action from the start and the first three games alone lasted 20 minutes.
The opening salvo of the Centre Court clash lasted 20 strokes as Murray went up 0-40 on the Serb’s serve but Djokovic produced staunch defence to stave off his opponent’s attack.
The duo did trade breaks in the third and fourth games, with each Murray winner being greeted by a chorus of 15,000 roars.
Second seed Murray got another chance to break to love in the seventh game and this time he pounced as the 2011 champion surrendered his serve by slapping a backhand into the net.
A set that initially looked like lasting forever ended exactly on the hour mark as Djokovic whipped a service return wide to give Murray, runner-up to Roger Federer last year, the one-set cushion.
The battle between the two players who were born seven days apart in 1987 intensified in the second set as they went toe-to-toe from the baseline with 25-shot rallies being par for the course.
Djokovic, who survived a four hour 43 minute semi-final epic against Juan Martin Del Potro two days ago, showed his super-human ability to recover quickly as he ran down everything Murray could throw at him.
The Serb rattled Murray by going for the lines and broke for a 3-1 lead when Olympic champion Murray flicked a forehand into the net.
Even when Djokovic slipped and skidded flat on to his stomach while trying to chase down a Murray winner, the six-times Grand Slam champion appeared unfazed as he quickly got back on to his feet to extend his lead to 4-1.
But Murray, who trains in the intense Miami heat, showed off his iron-man conditioning as he stormed back to level at 4-4, a Djokovic double fault on break point down handing him the break back in the seventh game.
While the cheering crowd, which included British Prime Minister David Cameron, got behind a pumped up Murray, Djokovic simply exploded in anger in the 11th game.
Convinced that Murray had gone long mid-rally at 15-15, he screamed at umpire Mohamed Lahyani "Why? What’s going on?" as he gesticulated wildly to show what he thought the linesman had failed to see.
Murray ignored the uproar to break the fuming Serb and soon had the fans roaring when he wrapped up the 69-minute second set with a 125mph thunderbolt ace.
The third set initially seemed a formality for Murray, who broke Djokovic early and almost sealed a double-break.
But two sloppy drop shots allowed the Serb to break back, with a rejuvenated Djokovic holding before winning the subsequent Murray service game as the Briton seemed to lose momentum.
Murray, however, has incredible mental and physical reserves and cancelled out that break with some intense hustling at the net, bringing it back with serve, which he held with a wonderful diving forehand off the baseline.
That was followed by a magnificent break for Murray, which boasted two astounding last-gasp winners, leaving him serving for the title.
Initially Djokovic saved three championship points as a nervy Murray’s serve deserted him, and the Serb even had three break-back points thanks to an unforced error to net from the Briton, a wonderful drop-shot off the net-cord and then a beautiful diving winner across the net.
But Murray saved them all, bringing up his fourth match point with some incredible fight at the baseline, his forehand pass forcing Djokovic to net a volley.
And, after his next serve was returned just inside the baseline, Murray was a spectator as Djokovic netted the follow up, sending Centre Court and an entire nation into raptures.
Nice work Pippa, but you forgot to mention Wimbledon’s big four
It is a brave pundit who attempts to follow the doyenne. In her guide to Wimbledon, published in Vanity Fair magazine, Pippa Middleton barely hits a bum note.
What observation, what perspicacity, what insight the future Queen’s sister offers up in her insider’s guide to what to look out for at the All England Club.
Take a raincoat, she suggests. Don’t plan dinner afterwards because matches sometimes go on late into the evening and there is apparently nothing worse in the human condition than missing Rafa Nadal in action because you’ve booked for a routine pizza with friends.
Do join in the Mexican wave (it’s such fun). And for goodness sake don’t wear stilettos: the walk from the tube is almost twenty minutes. Remember that, lads.
Thanks Pippa. Not a lot left for anyone else to consider after that. Though, to be fair – perhaps out of deference to friends and family – she leaves it to others to point out that the Centre Court crowd invariably features the year’s biggest gathering of those who have enjoyed the services of a cosmetic surgeon.
The ladies who lunch there (or if they follow Pippa’s advice take a cream tea with strawberries – seriously strawberries at Wimbledon, who’d have thought it until Pippa suggested the idea?) appear to do so only after an appointment in a nearby wind tunnel.
Also missing from her list is any observation about the centre court “oof”, the collective groan of disapproval when a player misses a winnable shot. This is the most dispiriting sound in world sport, a grumbly ticking off that makes the New Den greeting the arrival of West Ham sound positively encouraging.
But then Pippa isn’t one for miserablism. She loves her Wimbledon. She has been going since she was a tomboy, her appearance there an annual event long before the paparazzi picked her out in the stands quite coincidentally wearing a see-through dress.
And when Pippa takes her place in the royal box this year (no queuing up for tickets for People’s Sunday liked she used to now she has contacts) she could well be in for a treat.
This has the potential of being the best Wimbledon in a generation, certainly the best she will have seen in her twenty-odd years of unbroken attendance.
Never before – in the men’s game at least – has there been such an array of talent on show. Never before has it been so difficult to predict a winner.
When Rafa Nadal – fresh from quite astonishing triumph in the French Open – is seeded number five there is a clue to the excellence that will be on display.
Actually the very fact Nadal is going to be at Wimbledon fit and firing is cause for celebration. Last year, as he was knocked out by Lukas Rosol, the Czech world number 100, he was clearly struggling with the accumulated wear and tear of playing the power game.
But, as he proved in Paris, the muscular Spaniard is now back on form, fishing his knickers out of his crack with something approaching his old aplomb.
Novak Djokovic, the number one seed, too is as imperious as ever, an indefatigable combination of skill and refusal to yield. And it would be a foolish punter who writes off Roger Federer, a man who takes enormous enjoyment from circumventing the debilitations of time.
Sure, at 31, the clock is ticking on the elegant champion’s continuing mastery of centre court. Sure at times this season he has looked forlorn in defeat. But he loves Wimbledon almost as much as Pippa does. And the evidence of his first tournament win of the season last week is that his grass game is showing little sign yet of giving way to chronology.
Then there is Andy Murray. In truth, while his supporters have long talked about the big four of the men’s game, Murray has only recently joined the quartet.
Until last year, it was really only a big three and a half, Murray’s achievements to that point meant he belonged in the elite solely in the mind of British tennis writers and his mum.
Last year, however, changed all that. The Wimbledon final, Olympic gold and a win at the US Open signalled his accession to the very top of the game.
After missing the French Open with injury, he was simply brilliant at Queen’s, combining solid ground strokes with a flourish of eye-catching winners that were at times breath-taking.
He looked fitter than ever, strong, resourceful and canny. As John McEnroe suggested, he looked ready to fulfil his destiny. There can be no doubting he is now the real thing.
What this represents is Wimbledon’s perfect storm of talent, the four of them arriving together, ready to provide the finest competitive hoedown in the competition’s history.
And, given the fleeting nature of sporting prowess, this first gathering of the quartet coinciding in absolutely top form, might be the last. Hang on to your flats, Pippa: this could be the year Wimbledon blows your socks off.
Sir Alex Ferguson retires: Manchester United manager to step down at end of season after 27 years in charge | Mail Online
‘It has been an honour and a privilege’: Sir Alex Ferguson steps down after 27 years in charge of Manchester United as he pays tribute to his wife (and club’s share price falls by 4.5%)
- The 71-year-old will retire at the end of the season, club announces
- Sir Alex has won 13 Premier League titles during his United reign
- He will become a director and ambassador of the club after May 18
- United’s game with West Brom – his 1,500th in charge – will be his last
- Sir Alex said it was important to leave club in ‘strongest possible shape’
- Also won five FA Cup and four League Cups for the Old Trafford club
- His side won the European Champions League in 1999 and 2008
- Everton boss David Moyes, a fellow Scot, is set to replace Ferguson
- Bookmakers take a ‘bet every second’ on Ferguson’s successor today
By Steve Nolan
Sir Alex Ferguson announced today that he is to retire as Manchester United manager at the end of the season, describing his 27 years in charge of the club as having been an ‘honour and a privilege.’
The 71-year-old, who clinched his 13th Premier League title with the club last month paid tribute to his wife and colleagues for their support during his long tenure at Old Trafford.
But the announcement appeared to damage the club’s value on the stock market with shares falling by 4.5 per cent in the hours that followed before rallying to -1.28 per cent.
Sir Alex said in a statement that it was important to him to leave the club in the ‘strongest possible shape.’
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Retiring: Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has announced that he will step down after 27 years in charge of the club and 13 Premier League title wins
Cheerful: Ferguson in the Ibrox directors’ box at the Rangers v Man United legends match this week
Success: Sir Alex pops a cork after winning the Premier League title last month, left, and is seen decked out in United colours after he was unveiled as their new manager in 1986
CLUB’S SHARE PRICES TUMBLE
Shares in Manchester United today fell in New York amid fears over the impact that Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure will have on the club.
The opening bell on Wall Street saw shares down by 3 per cent, driven lower by worries over whether the club can appoint the right replacement for the most successful manager in English football history.
His successor will be the key figure at a business laden with almost £370 million of debt and tightly controlled by its US majority owners, the Glazer family.
The club, which trades under the MANU ticker on Wall Street, announced his departure while US markets were closed, but shares slipped on opening as investors digested the impact of the 71-year-old’s departure on one of sport’s most successful franchises.
In the prospectus to its 2012 stock market flotation, Manchester United warned: ‘We are highly dependent on members of our management, coaching staff and our players.
‘Any successor to our current manager may not be as successful as our current manager.’
Shares in the club have surged 34 per cent since floating in August at 14 US dollars (£9) per share, closing on Tuesday evening at 18.77 US dollars (£12.11).
The flotation allowed the Glazer family to sell 16.7m shares – equal to a 10 per cent stake.
The Glazers bought the Premier League football club for £790 million in 2005 in a controversial deal that enraged fans because they put in just £300 million of their own money and loaded the club with debt.
The club’s most recent annual results showed total revenues of £320.3 million for the year to the end of June 2012, down 3.3 per cent on a year earlier.
Hargreaves Lansdown head of equities Richard Hunter said: ‘The Manchester United merchandising machine will not grind to a halt overnight.
‘The company is thinly traded and researched on Wall Street, but of the handful of analysts which cover the stock, the consensus of the shares as a buy is likely to remain intact, despite the inevitably difficult transition phase to a new chapter in the club’s history.’
He said: ‘The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about and one that I have not taken lightly. It is the right time.
‘It was important to me to leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so.
‘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 set-up will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains a bright one.’
Sir Alex will remain part of the set up at Old Trafford despite stepping back from on the field matters.
He will take up a role as director and ambassador for the club when he retires after Manchester United’s game with West Brom on May 18 – his 1,500th game in charge.
He said: ‘Going forward, I am delighted to take on the roles of both Director and Ambassador for the club. With these activities, along with my many other interests, I am looking forward to the future.’
He paid tribute to the support of his friends, colleagues and family throughout his career, in particular his wife Cathy.
He said: ‘I must pay tribute to my family, their love and support has been essential.
‘My wife Cathy has been the key figure throughout my career, providing a bedrock of both stability and encouragement. Words are not enough to express what this has meant to me.
‘As for my players and staff, past and present, I would like to thank them all for a staggering level of professional conduct and dedication that has helped to deliver so many memorable triumphs.’
Ferguson has had a career the like of which will never be seen again.
He won his 49th trophy by winning United’s 20th league championship and seemed set to extend his career into next season, confirming as much in his programme notes ahead of Sunday’s encounter with Chelsea.
Instead, with a hip operation booked in for August, this weekend’s Old Trafford encounter with Swansea, followed by a trophy presentation, will be his last home game in charge.
Manchester united Chief Executive David Gill described his time working with the manager as the ‘greatest experience’ of his working life.
He said that the club have been planning for Sir Alex’s retirement on and off the pitch.
He said: ‘I’ve had the tremendous pleasure of working very closely with Alex for 16 unforgettable years – through the treble, the double, countless trophy wins and numerous signings.
‘We knew that his retirement would come one day and we both have been planning for it by ensuring the quality of the squad and club structures are in first-class condition.
‘Alex’s vision, energy and ability have built teams – both on and off the pitch – that his successor can count on as among the best and most loyal in world sport.’
Where it all began: Sir Alex is unveiled as Manchester United manager by former Chairman Martin Edwards back in 1986
Early days: Manchester United’s new manager Alex Ferguson watches from the dug out as his side play Oxford United, in his first game in charge of the club. United lost 2-0
First European trophy: Sir Alex holding the European Cup Winners Cup and former manager Sir Matt Busby holding the European Cup at Old Trafford, after United won the trophy in 1991
First trophy: Sir Alex is seen clutching the FA Cup after his side beat Crystal Palace in the final in 1990
Joel Glazer, joint chairman of the Manchester United board with brother Avie, pinpointed the 2008 Champions League final penalty shootout success over Chelsea as a highlight among the many memories.
He said: ‘Alex has proven time and time again what a fantastic manager he is but he’s also a wonderful person.
Tribute: Sir Alex thanked his wife Cathy for her support in a statement announcing his retirement this morning
‘His determination to succeed and dedication to the club have been truly remarkable. I will always cherish the wonderful memories he has given us, like that magical night in Moscow.’
Politicians including Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband paid tribute to Sir Alex’s achievements today.
Mr Cameron said on Twitter: ‘Sir Alex Ferguson’s achievement at #MUFC has been exceptional. Hopefully his retirement will make life a little easier for my team #AVFC.’
This afternoon he joked that Sir Alex will have to provide a consultancy service to Aston Villa, the side Cameron supports, as the midlands club have battled relegation this season.
In a speech opening debate in the Commons following the Queen’s address today, Mr Cameron joked that even Conservative MPs would be recognising the achievements of Sir Alex – a staunch Labour supporter.
He said: ‘It is the day to perhaps sing the praises of Sir Alex Ferguson, a remarkable man in British football who has had an extraordinary, successful career.
‘I am sure that all members, even on the blue team, will want to pay tribute to this member of the red team. Perhaps he could now provide some consultancy services for Aston Villa.’
Prior to Mr Cameron’s speech, Labour leader Ed Miliband told MPs that Sir Alex was ‘phenomenally talented at his job’.
He said: ‘I won’t let this day pass without paying tribute to the most successful football manager this world has ever seen – a great supporter of the reds, you might call him.
‘Sir Alex Ferguson, phenomenally talented at his job, winner of 13 championships – (he) can teach us all about hard work and dedication.’
Sir Alex had vowed to carry on ‘indefinitely’ in programme notes written before Sunday’s defeat against Chelsea.
Devoted: Sir Alex and Cathy pictured with new born son Mark, left, and in the kitchen of their Glasgow home when he played for Rangers in 1968. Sir Alex thanked her for her support throughout his career
He arrived at the club’s Carrington training ground to take training as normal this morning.
But already speculation is mounting as to who could replace the most successful manager in British football history.
Talks are underway to find a replacement and Everton manager David Moyes is among the frontrunners.
It had been rumoured that Moyes would initially join the club as understudy to Ferguson for a season before taking over the reigns full time.
Moyes remains the favourite to take over with bookmakers offering odds of 4/6 this morning.
Other big names thought to be in the running include Real Madrid manager and former Chelsea favourite Jose Mourinho, who is tipped at 6/5 by bookmakers to get the job.
The self-proclaimed ‘special one’ has been widely tipped to join Chelsea, but could be set to rethink those plans.
At the races: Manchester United players Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Michael Carrick and Nemanja Vidic arrive at Chester racecourse today, shortly after boss Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement
Strikers Wayne Rooney and Danny Wellbeck pictured suited and booted at Chester races today – manager Sir Alex Ferguson was nowhere to be seen
He is likely to be available at the end of the season.
Long-serving Manchester United star Ryan Giggs has also been linked with the role as well as Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp.
United’s hand may have been forced in terms of making an announcement by strict New york Stock Exchange rules.
With the club floated on the market, any information which significantly affects the running of the club must be announced.
The news hit Manchester United’s stateside share prices, with their value down more than 3.5 per cent this afternoon.
Vow: Sir Alex had said that he wanted to carry on as manager in his programme notes ahead of Sunday’s home defeat to Chelsea
Vintage: Sir Alex and Manchester United star Ryan Giggs celebrate winning the Premier League back in 2003
Hairdryer treatment: David Beckham felt the wrath of Sir Alex back in February 2003 when he was hit on the head by a stray boot kicked by the fiery Scotsman
Old boys: Sir Alex Ferguson, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, David Beckham, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Paul Scholes of Manchester United recreate the famous Class of ’92 photo from 1992 ahead of Gary Neville’s testimonial match in 2011
FERGIE’S FABULOUS 49
Sir Alex Ferguson has won 49 trophies in the most successful managerial career Britain has ever known.
Scottish First Division (1): 1976-77.
Scottish Premier Division (3): 1979-80, 1983-84, 1984-85.
Scottish Cup (4): 1981-82, 1982-83, 1983-84, 1985-86.
Scottish League Cup (1): 1985-86.
European Cup Winners’ Cup (1): 1982-83.
European Super Cup (1): 1983.
Premier League (13): 1992-93, 1993-94, 1995-96, 1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2002-03, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2010-11, 2012-13.
FA Cup (5): 1989-90, 1993-94, 1995-96, 1998-99, 2003-04.
League Cup (4): 1991-92, 2005-06, 2008-09, 2009-10.
Charity/Community Shield (10): 1990 (shared), 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011.
Champions League (2): 1998-99, 2007-08.
European Cup Winners’ Cup (1): 1990-91.
European Super Cup (1): 1991.
Intercontinental Cup (1): 1999.
FIFA Club World Cup (1): 2008.
Officials at Old Trafford had put up a wall of silence before this morning’s announcement, despite heavy speculation.
The club were not even taking calls from journalists last night amid a frenzy of speculation over their manager’s future.
Similarly the club will have to announce Sir Alex’s successor to the market as soon as he is appointed.
Sources say that there is expected to be ‘an announcement within days.’
Ferguson was expected at Chester Races today for a planned day out with some of United’s players.
But while some of the side’s stars, including Wayne Rooney and Danny Wellbeck were spotted, their manager was nowhere to be seen.
Rumours began to circulate on Tuesday among United’s players and coaching staff, who were involved in a golf match at Dunham Forest in Cheshire.
The Scotsman became famed throughout his career for his infamous ‘hairdryer treatment’ dished out to players and his fiery temperament.
One of the most infamous examples of star players feeling Ferguson’s wrath came in February 2003 when the manager kick a boot in the changing room which hit David Beckham on the forehead.
Beckham wore the wounds from the incident in a very public fallout and left the club months later.
Things could have turned out very differently for Ferguson and Manchester United had the club not won the FA Cup in 1990.
Ferguson’s side were struggling in the league and had a tough third round tie against Nottingham Forest.
If the tabloids were to be believed then Ferguson would have been sacked if the team finished trophyless.
But a goal by youth team product Mark Robins gave United a win and the rest is history.
Moyes was at Goodison Park on Tuesday night to watch Everton defeat Newcastle in the Under 21s Premier League.
The 50-year-old Scot is out of contract this summer but has refused to discuss his future publicly, insisting only that he would weigh up his options at the end of the season.
United’s final match of the season, at West Bromwich Albion on May 19, will be the 1,500th of Ferguson’s tenure as manager.
‘FOOTBALL…BLOODY HELL!’ MEMORABLE SIR ALEX FERGUSON QUOTES
Sir Alex Ferguson has been involved in some of the most exciting moments in British football history and has provided the media with some of the most memorable quotes. Here are a selection of the very best.
‘I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. Football. Bloody hell.’
After winning the Champions League final against Bayern Munich on May 26, 1999.
‘It’s getting tickly now – squeaky-bum time, I call it.’
During the 2002/03 end-of-season title race between Arsenal and United.
Sealed with a kiss: Sir Alex Ferguson toasts Manchester United’s 1999 Champions League success
‘They say he’s an intelligent man, right? Speaks five languages. I’ve got a 15-year-old boy from the Ivory Coast who speaks five languages!’ – On Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, 1996.
‘He could start a row in an empty house.’ – On Dennis Wise.
Outspoken: Sir Alex has offered the press a number of memorable quotes over the years
‘He was certainly full of it, calling me "Boss" and "Big Man" when we had our post-match drink after the first leg. But it would help if his greetings were accompanied by a decent glass of wine. What he gave me was paint-stripper.’ – On Jose Mourinho.
‘It was a freakish incident. If I tried it 100 or a million times it couldn’t happen again. If I could I would have carried on playing!’
Explaining how he kicked a boot in the United dressing room that hit David Beckham in the face.
‘When an Italian tells me it’s pasta on the plate, I check under the sauce to make sure. They are the inventors of the smokescreen.’
Before playing Inter Milan in the Champions League quarter-final, 1999.
‘My greatest challenge is not what’s happening at the moment, my greatest challenge was knocking Liverpool right off their ******* perch. And you can print that.’
On Alan Hansen questioning his future in 2002.
‘Hand-picked’: Everton manager David Moyes leaving his club’s training ground today
That’s handy: Everton boss Moyes is leading the betting to replace Ferguson at Old Trafford
‘THANKS BOSS’: DAVID BECKHAM’S MESSAGE TO HIS BEST MANAGER
‘I’ve just seen the news on Sir Alex. As I have said many times before the boss wasn’t just the greatest and best manager I ever played under he was also a father figure to me from the moment I arrived at the club at the age of 11 until the day I left.
‘Without him I would never have achieved what I have done in my career. He understood how important it was to play for your country and he knew how much it meant to me.
‘After ’98 without the manager I would have found it virtually impossible to cope with the attention I was getting on and off the field and for this I will always be grateful to him for his support and protection.
‘I am truly honoured to have been guided by the greatest manager in football and to have had the career that I had under him.
Thank you boss and enjoy the rest!’
On Twitter, Rio Ferdinand echoed his former teammate’s sentiment, saying: ‘The bosses work ethic, his desire to win + to make us better players were unrivalled. Thanks boss.’
Many people inside football — including two Premier League managers — have suggested privately this season that Ferguson would have stepped aside had United not lost last season’s Premier League title race to Manchester City on the last kick of the campaign.
That has never been confirmed by United but it is thought Ferguson broke the news to his wife, Cath, that he had to shelve plans to retire within hours of City snatching the title.
There were also suggestions that Ferguson’s brother Martin may be standing aside from his scouting duties.
Of similar significance was the decision by David Gill — Ferguson’s closest ally — to step down as chief executive at the end of this season. But it had emerged United were preparing to make a more seismic announcement.
At the weekend, Ferguson suggested in his programme notes he would be around at Old Trafford next season.
Having always cited his health as the primary factor in any decision to retire, the club’s confirmation last Friday evening that Ferguson, who had a heart pacemaker fitted in 2004, would undergo hip surgery in August raised fresh doubt over his determination to continue in the post.
The developments came on the back of fevered and persistent betting this week that British football’s most successful manager may be ready to step aside.
Conquering Europe: Fergie lifts the Champions League trophy in Moscow in 2008
Double top: Fergie, holding a BBC Lifetime Achievement Award, with David Beckham at SPOTY in 2001
Unlucky for some: Ferguson has got his hands on a the Premier League trophy a remarkable 13 times in all
‘I don’t have any plans at the moment to walk away from what I believe will be something special and worth being around to see,’ he said.
‘It’s always difficult in football to be absolutely sure of the future because the game has a habit of tripping you up, but I don’t live in a fantasy world and believe we have every reason to feel confident about the future of Manchester United.
‘My view stems not from the euphoria of winning back the title we lost last season, but on the way we did it and the make-up of our playing personnel.’
Glory days: Sir Alex pictured with the Champions League and Premier League trophies
Finest hour: Manchester United secured a treble of Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup in 1999
Already bookmakers seem to be predicting a slight decline in the fortunes of the club on the pitch after Sir Alex retires.
Bookmakers have already lengthened odds of the club retaining its Premier League crown next season, with Manchester City now installed as firm favourites.
William Hill spokesman Joe Crilly said: ‘Sir Alex has been the bane of bookmakers for 27 years but his leagcy is such that whether Mourinho or Moyes, or anyone else for that matter, takes the job, they
will still be considered very realistic Premier League challengers.
‘Having said that, no one knows how to build a title winning side like Sir Alex and for that reason we have had no option but to ease the price of the Reds winning the League next season.’
The odds on Sir Alex claiming the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award in December have been dramatically slashed following this morning’s news.
He was considered an outsider at 33/1 yesterday, but is now second favourite behind fellow Scot Andy Murray at 6/1.
Betting punters have clearly been swept up in the speculation as to who should take over at Old Trafford with £50,000 staked at Ladbrokes this morning alone.
One gambler laid out £1,000 that Mourinho will succeed Sir Alex as manager.
A spokesman for Ladbrokes said today: We’ve had a bet every second and there’s no sign of it slowing down any time soon.’
WHO WILL REPLACE THE MOST SUCCESSFUL MANAGER IN BRITISH HISTORY?
DAVID MOYES (ODDS: 1/8): A persistent contender, who shares Ferguson’s Scottish working-class roots.
Moyes has plenty of admirers at Old Trafford due to the work he has done at Everton and his preference for the passing style United favour.
Speculation has been intense of late that he is in his last season at Goodison Park, but has no real experience at the very highest level.
Successor? Everton’s manager David Moyes and Manchester United’s assistant manager Mike Phelan
JOSE MOURINHO (ODDS: 4/1): Many had believed it was all but a done deal that the Real Madrid boss would return to Chelsea at the end of the season.
But the Portuguese, while clearly hinting he is keen to manage in England once again, has never explicitly mentioned his old club.
Despite a lukewarm endorsement from United legend Sir Bobby Charlton, Mourinho is the one man guaranteed not to be overwhelmed by taking on the challenge of following Ferguson.
OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER (ODDS: 25/1): A host of former United players have been linked with the job in the past yet all have fallen by the wayside.
Legend: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrating scoring the winning goal for Manchester United during the European Champions League Final against Bayern Munich in 1999 could replace Sir Alex
The latest is Solskjaer, who has made a successful start to his managerial career at Molde. He lacks experience, though, and will benefit from Ferguson remaining at the club as a director.
JURGEN KLOPP (ODDS: 20/1): The Borussia Dortmund boss has made a big impression during his club’s impressive run to the Champions League final.
With a style of football that seems tailor-made for the English football and an at-times eccentric manner in his post-match interviews, he would be an intriguing addition to the Premier League.
LAURENT BLANC (ODDS: 50/1): Blanc had a brief stint with the Red Devils at the end of his career, so knows the club well.
Caught the eye as manager of Bordeaux, where he won the French league title, then stabilised a France team that collapsed into chaos at the last World Cup before stepping down following their quarter-final loss to Spain at Euro 2012.
FERGIE’S FIVE FINEST SIGNINGS WHO TOOK UNITED TO THE TOP OF EUROPE
Top of the stoppers: Peter Schmeichel
Peter Schmeichel (signed from Brondby, 1991)
Widely regarded as the greatest goalkeeper in Premier League history, the Dane’s heroic efforts provided clean sheets aplenty and the security at the back which was so key to United’s success throughout the 1990s. Schmeichel, recruited for around £500,000, knew how to intimidate opposition strikers by making optimum use of his frame and at times appeared just as fearful for his defenders, who would frequently receive a rollicking from him. Capped eight glorious years with the club by skippering United – in the absence of the suspended Roy Keane – in the 1999 Champions League final as Ferguson’s men secured the treble.
Eric Cantona (signed from Leeds, 1992)
Cantona’s five-year spell at United will never be forgotten. The Frenchman, who cost Ferguson just over £1million, gave the club’s fans many a moment to savour on the pitch with his dazzling skills, which helped the Red Devils to a haul of four Premier League titles and two FA Cups. But what perhaps cemented his iconic status was the way he played the part of the tortured genius. The most infamous instance of his short temper was the kung-fu kick he aimed at a Crystal Palace supporter and he made philosophical comments afterwards about seagulls following a trawler. It was somewhat appropriate that he exited early leaving the crowd wanting more, retiring aged 30 in 1997.
Driving force: Roy Keane
Roy Keane (signed from Nottingham Forest, 1993)
The£3.75million Ferguson paid Forest for Keane was a British transfer record at the time, but there is little question that he got value for money. In 12 years of service, the Irish midfielder was United’s engine room and driving force as they dominated English football through the 1990s and into the next decade. He also led them to the 1999 Champions League final, only to miss the game through suspension. Keane succeeded Cantona as captain and was just as combustible a character, if not more so. But it was that edge on the field that so endeared him to United fans and made him the player everyone else wanted in their team.
Cristiano Ronaldo (signed from Sporting Lisbon, 2003)
Megastar: Cristiano Ronaldo
Ferguson signed a teenage Ronaldo for £12.24million and it looked as if he may have paid over the odds for little more than a showboater in the early days of the Portuguese forward’s United career. He soon showed his game was not just about stepovers, though, developing into one of the world’s most potent players. Ronaldo scored an incredible total of 42 goals for the club in the 2007-08 season as the Red Devils won the Champions League. Although his exit to Real Madrid a year later was a blow, the world record £80million fee he commanded softened it considerably.
Edwin van der Sar (signed from Fulham, 2005)
Van der Sar was 34 when he arrived at Old Trafford for an undisclosed fee, but the Dutch goalkeeper was in no way a fading force. It soon became apparent that Ferguson had finally found the solution in a position which had been a problem for United since Schmeichel’s departure, as Van der Sar’s reliable hands helped the team achieve a new period of success. He broke a multitude of records with his clean sheets in the 2008-09 season and finally retired from football in 2011, having won four Premier League titles and the Champions League with the Red Devils.
From the Mail Online