Fergie salute cleared by FA

I like Sir Alex Ferguson. He is a cantankerous old man who always speaks his mind and often riles opponents up to his own advantage.

I also like him because he is Scottish, because he is successful and because he likes football to be played with flair, passion and pace.

But all that aside, I cannot believe he is going to get away scot-free following his “alleged” gestures to Reading fans during Manchester United’s 2-0 win at the weekend. I have seen some cringeworthy celebrations from Fergie at the side of the pitch – most of them akin to a drunken Grandad dancing at a wedding – but the one against Reading was absolutely blatant.

The “get it up ye” gesture is a particularly offensive one and I see no way that it could be mistaken as a celebration of relief at winning a tough game. A clenched fist, yes, but when coupled with the “get it up ye” salute – not once but twice – there can be no doubt exactly what message he was trying to convey to the Reading fans.

A recent personal example of the offensiveness of the “get it up ye” brand of celebration came following a 2-1 victory for Leith Athletic over Waterside in a cup quarter final. After the victory, their sidelines claimed they heard the shout of “get it up ye” from our mild-mannered goalkeeper Iain Gordon.

A 20-man brawl ensued with one crazed supporter/club official picking up a metal stake used to hold the advertising hoardings and chasing a number of players with it.

Iain later claimed he shouted “get in there”, a perfectly reasonable shout following a hard-fought game. However, this example does highlight the unsportsmanlike feeling the “get it up ye” brand of celebration triggers among losing sides – even if they only think they heard it.

On this occasion I think Fergie let himself and his team down with that particular celebration and should have been reprimanded by the FA. However, i’m sure it won’t be long before he is back to his more traditional mind-games and off-the-cuff quips.

When do they play Newcastle again?

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I would love it, absolutely love it if they beat them….

There’s not many things that surprise me in the world of football these days, probably because my amazement threshold has been stretched to its limit in recent years.

But the announcement that “Geordie Messiah” Kevin Keegan is returning to manage Newcastle United was one that stopped me in my tracks. An undoubted marmalade dropper in sporting news if ever I heard one. At least it would have been if it hadn’t broken late afternoon.

The Guardian’s ‘The Fiver’ column best summed up the appointment under the banner: “Sensational and Presposterous Breaking News…”

Keegan is the Toon’s most successful manager and steered them from second division obscurity to twice running Manchester United to the wire for the Premiership title. He is revered as a God on Tyneside and will forever hold a place dear in the hearts of the Geordie faithful.

For the past few years Keegan has also been running his “Soccer Circus” which, while being a cheap and easy gag, ought to stand him in good stead for the task ahead at St James’ Park.

They say you should never return to the scene of your previous triumphs but Walter Smith is currently proving that to be false while Graham Taylor and Harry Redknapp have also proven to be successful second time round at Watford and Portsmouth.

I for one am very much looking forward to seeing Newcastle once Keegan has got his hands on them and ripped up the defensive manual. He will also bring some much needed charisma to the post-match interviews. Who could ever forget his foaming at the mouth “I would love it” rant at Sir Alex Ferguson during their epic title battle in the 1995/96 season.

I’m going to stick my neck out and say that I can’t see Newcastle mounting a similar challenge under Keegan a second time around. Football is much more sophisticated than when Keegan was last involved and new-fangled inventions called “tactics” and “defence” play a much bigger role than the up-and-at-em days of King Kev’s reign.

However, there is no doubt that if he delivers the attacking brand of football the fans crave they will love him for it and although it is unlikely to stand the rigours of an entire season, he will stand a good chance of bagging their first major trophy since 1969 in one of the cup competitions.

Regardless of what happens, there are exciting times on the horizon at St James and I, for one, would love it, absolutely love it if the Great Permed one could deliver once again for the Toon.