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Sometimes 140 characters is just not enough. How much money is enough?

Let me explain. I couldn't believe my eyes last night when I did my usual evening sweep of the on-line papers and saw the latest financial figures out of Manchester United.

Everywhere, it seems, there are what would appear to be excesses. For example, if two and a half million a year (and doubtless bonuses) is the going rate for a Chief Exec of a top football club these days then so be it.

It was the two million for eight months work for the 'ambassador' Sir Alex Ferguson that leapt out at me. Two million for eight months work? This is money that most 'proper' Manchester United fans can only dream about - not those that eat the prawn sandwiches! Most won't make a fraction of that if they work for the best part of 50 years. Two million quid? For eight months work!

I mentioned this on Twitter and my account lit up. Surprisingly I felt, there was about a 50-50 split of opinion, obviously much of it driven by club loyalties. But for those United fans that believe I have insulted their hero, let me explain

It's Fergie that's insulted you. Think about it, two million quid to tour the world, expenses paid of course, to say nice things about Manchester United. How many of you would do that for nothing?

I know that's not a great argument so let me continue.

Sir Alex Ferguson is, in my opinion, the greatest manager British football has ever seen. Quite simply - the best. There's an argument he might just be the best of all time anywhere in the world. He's certainly right up there.

He produced a era of success the likes of which we'll NEVER see again in our domestic game. NEVER. And he did the same for a glorious era in Scotland with Aberdeen. You can like him or loathe him, but you can't deny the fella was special.

But he was also flawed. Genius always is. What makes me different to most of the rest in my profession is that I'm prepared to say it. I want nothing from him. He gave me nothing during his era of success so I owe him nothing. Not many can say that and it gives me the opportunity to be objective.

He would rear up at 'greedy' players. How many times did we hear him say that the 'honour' of playing for United should never be under-estimated. He was furious when Wayne Rooney's head was turned by a mega bucks deal from the noisy neighbours and he scrapped like a scolded cat to keep him. And trust me, it was a scrap that got very dirty.

Jap Stam was thrown out of the club for writing a book! 'What goes on a this club stays at this club' was his mantra. He forgot to add 'until I write my book that is'.

Sir Alex has forgotten much. Not least the loyalty shown to him by Martin Edwards. Had it not been for Edwards' stubbornness in the early years (yes, years - five and a half of them) we would never have heard of Fergie again. At any stage during that barren spell Edwards could've sacked him and would have been well within his rights to do so.

Fergie went on to deliver - big time. But Utd delivered for him - big time. He is rich beyond his wildest dreams. I'm told, on very good authority, he once said that he'd secured his future, his children's future and he was now working to secure his grand children's future. Nice work if you can get it.

I've said before, the book was a mistake. He let himself down spilling those tawdry tales. I read it and couldn't find any mention of his arguments over 'Rock of Gibraltar' nor Ryan Giggs' indiscretions. Rooney got it in the neck again though!

And then there followed the tacky theatre tours. Once again Utd punters were asked to cough up even more of their hard earned cash to listen to their hero spill the beans on his time at the club.

So I ask you - how much money is enough? Utd shouldn't be paying Fergie anything to sell their 'brand'. Nothing. Zero. Zilch. It should be a pleasure for Fergie to do that. Why not? Hasn't he earned enough out of the club for goodness sake? Before you tweet with more bile, just pause and ask yourself that question.

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For most it was the definitive weekend of FA Cup football. At last, the old girl got up off her sick bed and snapped back, proving there is life in the oldest and greatest knock out competition of them all. But is there really?

It all started at The Abbey Stadium on Friday night. What a terrific performance by Richard Money's Cambridge Utd that was. Despite his many excuses, there was nobody Luis Van Gaal could blame for Utd's embarrassing night out other than himself and his team. 

Jose Mourinho said it would be a 'disgrace' were Chelsea to lose at home to Bradford. Well, it was. He made eight changes - something he's not known for doing - and they lost. Take nothing away from Bradford - I'm delighted for them - but why is there a big piece of me convinced that Mourinho is chuffed to bits? Forget all the nonsense about a 'quadruple'. It's not possible. Mourinho knows that more than anybody else. Have we all forgotten he said as much before the game?  He'll have a go Tuesday night v L'pool because he wants to go back to Wembley. And because it's L'pool!  Otherwise he wouldn't be too bothered again. There's two prizes he has his sights on this season - the P Lge and the C Lge. In that order. 

A lot of fuss was made about Man City's late arrival back from Abu Dhabi following their mid-winter break. I even saw the phrase 'jet- lag' used in one paper! Jet-lag? After a flight from Abu Dhabi? Come on. Nonsense.

Take nothing away from M'boro, but City were poor again. I was taken by Pellegrini's line 'the flight from Abu Dhabi is not the reason we haven't scored in our last two home matches'. That tells me he sniffs a far greater problem. That should worry City fans more than the defeat. In fact, just like Mourinho, I suspect Pellegrini is quietly pleased his team are out!

So should we believe the FA Cup is off the sick list when the top two teams in the country aren't really too bothered that they're out? 

I'm wondering whether Ronald Koeman will be shedding too many tears as well! He's got other targets. 

United, on the other hand, NEED it. They're my pick to win it, but not unless Van Gaal can convince his players' of what it is he's trying to achieve. I'm not sure anymore that even he knows! 

Well done Leicester. And Jeffrey Schlupp. Like Diafra Sakho he's up and about after 'injury' ruled them both out of the Africa Cup of Nations......! Watch this space.

Top marks to Bolton as well. A fine draw earned at L'pool. And Blackburn, who dumped out Swansea.

So now we're without Chelsea, City, Soton, Spurs, Newcastle and Everton. We could yet lose L'pool and Sunderland. If Utd go out Van Gaal should resign. I mean it. But they won't.

Do we really want a competition so devoid of Cup giants on the afore mentioned list? I don't. 

I remember only too well the semi-finals of 2008. I turned up at Wembley, with my colleagues at Sky, to watch a semi-final between Barnsley and Cardiff. With respect (which I grant you generally means 'none at all'!) other than the supporters of Barnsley and Cardiff - who really cared? Brian Barwick, who was then Chief Exec of the FA, said to me 'cheer up Keysie, it's a game isn't it'? 'It's a game'? That was the top man at the FA (how he ever got the job is a conversation for another time).

Cardiff won a drab and instantly forgettable semi-final and went on to lose to Portsmouth. It was an awful final. 'Arry, of course, ripped the 'eart out of Pompey to put that one piece of silverware on his cv. If they could turn the clock back and have their club back, forgoing that Cup win, I'm sure Pompey fans would. But that's another story.

 

My point is, surely we don't want another year like that? It's great now watching the giants fall, but we need at least three of them in the semi-finals. This competition is supposed to be our 'showcase' around the world. Be careful what you wish for........... Oh, and good luck Rochdale! 

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I thought I'd take time out this morning to explain my tweet last night (sent whilst I was watching the real MNF with its originator Andy Gray and Glenn Hoddle) Sometimes 140 characters are just not enough! 

It was towards the back end of last season that Jim Beglin used the phrase 'Everton have made 'significant' progress under Roberto Martinez'.

I disagreed. I said so. And I still disagree. Of course, Jim is allowed his opinion (he's a good football judge and a very good co-commentator, as well as being a top bloke). Having stated that principle, I too am allowed mine. We've all got an opinion on football. It's what makes the game great. It's what keeps us talking about it. It's what makes it special.

It should NOT be the case that somebody (me in this case) should be the recipient of the foul bile and abuse that often follows if small minded bigoted, so called football supporters disagree. Have a debate. Discuss. What's wrong with that?

I stand by what I said, and I believe this season's trouble at Goodison makes me right.

A quick history lesson. I think the world of the club. It played a major part in my broadcasting education. I watched them, almost exclusively for four years when I worked at Radio City in Liverpool.

It was then - and still is - exactly what David Moyes called it when he joined them from Preston 'the people's club'.

David worked wonders during his time at Everton. I watched with 16,000 fans most weeks as Howard Kendall trawled his backside up and down the right flank during an awful era!  Eventually. Howard got it right and he remains the most successful manager the club has ever had.

But the glory years had long been forgotten by the time Moyes arrived. Working with tight budgets, in an ageing arena and limited training facilities, he made them competitive again. They became difficult to beat and could give anyone a game. Champions League qualification and an FA Cup final were the highlights. Moyes should be regarded as a modern day hero at Everton, not reviled.

Martinez, working with many of Moyes' players, had a very good season last time out. Barry was an astute piece of business and Lukaku made us all wonder why Mourniho had let him go on loan. I did warn though that he could become 'new' Adebayor. My reasoning being that Adebayor has often looked world class when on loan. No team has seen the best of him having signed him. Lukaku has got work to do to persuade me he's different.

Anyway, Martinez matched Moyes' best season point for point. Goal for goal. But Everton were passing the ball a lot. Passing it more than ever before. 'Easier on the eye' I was told. 'Better to watch'. They'd 'improved significantly'. No they hadn't. And no they haven't.

Possession and passing are all very good if there is an end product to go with it. I've said this time and again during this era of stat driven possession and passing. Passing where? Possession where? Across in front of the keeper time and time again. And again. And again!

Possession is not 9/10th's of the law. It can be 9/10th's of a bore. And I believe most Evertonians are now coming round to that way of thinking. So are the players. Why was it that Lukaku and Jagielka sought to persuade Martinez to be more 'direct' in the cup tie against West Ham otherwise? And they were again v City.

Last night though they were poor. The fuss over 'penalty-gate' masked a dreadful performance. Martinez has got to re-think what he's doing or Everton could find themselves in real trouble.

At the start of the season I omitted Everton from my predicted top 6 and got hammered. I apologised and said if there was a team equipped to break 'into' my 6 it was Everton. I was originally correct and subsequently wrong!

On the subject of possession and passing - I'll leave you with these words.

'I loathe all that passing for the sake of it. All that tiki-taka. It's so much rubbish and has no purpose. You have to pass the ball with a clear intention of making it into the oppositions goal

Don't believe what people say. Barca didn't do tiki-taka. It's completely made up. Don't believe a word of it!'

The source of those wise words? Pep Guardiola in his book. The prosecution rests it's case!!!