Fergie insists pressure to succeed still rests easy on his shoulders
alex Ferguson has no problem handling the burden of expectation that comes with Manchester United's ever-growing list of sponsors, WRITES GORDON TYNAN.
Since they adopted a new "territory-based" marketing plan, United's group of partners has expanded rapidly. Commercial revenues contributed £81.4m to United's overall turnover of £286m in the results that were published in October. And there is no sign of that growth slowing.
The latest seven-figure deal was unveiled at Old Trafford yesterday -- a four-year partnership with leading global telecommunications company Bharti Airtel covering 11 countries within Africa.
As he stands on the brink of eclipsing Matt Busby as the longest-serving manager in United history, Ferguson could be forgiven for thinking it is all too much for a man who will celebrate his 69th birthday on New Year's Eve. Instead, he relishes the challenge.
"I never even think about not being successful. It never crosses my mind," he said. "I am always positive about the future of this club. It has been that way for a long time. Unless the sky is going to fall down on top of us, we will remain the way we are. It is our expectation I am concerned about. We are all united in that sense.
"We are well aware that when we lose a game it is back page and sometimes front page depending on who has managed to beat us. That is the expectation. We have no problem with that. It is a great thing for my players, all my staff and supporters." United claim a significant proportion of an estimated 333 million worldwide fan base is from Africa and recent tours to South Africa and Nigeria proved how popular the Red Devils are.
Much of that immense support base has been achieved thanks to the work of Ferguson. "The cycle of success in football only lasts four years at the very most," he said. "We were almost within that grasp last year, losing the title by one point. That would have made history. But four years is the type of time-span you have... Then you need to think about how you regenerate." (© Independent News Service)