Abide With Me

Fergie has finally retired and David Moyes has been appointed as his successor at Manchester United. Before I comment on David, I should say that I think Sir Alex has been an incredible manager. It may be hard for many to remember the state that Manchester United were in before he took over. In fact, many United fans are actually too young to remember; he has been in charge for so long – 27 years at the top.

Sir Alex Ferguson is officially the most successful manager in British footballing history, winning 2 Champions League Titles, 13 Premier League titles, 5 F.A. Cups, 4 League Cups, and a whole host of other competitions; a total of almost 40 separate trophies with Manchester United. The word ‘legend’ is overused when commenting on the careers of people in the public eye, but surely, the achievements of Sir Alex warrant the accolade.

As many of my regular readers will know, I am a lifelong Everton fan and it is with some regret that we must say goodbye to David Moyes – a man who has won no trophies at Everton, but a man who is, nevertheless, a worthy successor to the old man.

David is dearly loved and respected, both by fans and players alike. His achievements at Everton rank him in the top echelons of football management. Working with limited resource, he has steadily built a quality side that is capable of competing at the highest level. I know that every Everton fan will join me in wishing him all the best for the future. He has earned the opportunity to show the world what he is capable of achieving with better resources and, next year, we hope he wins all of his games, except two.

That brings me to the F.A. Cup Final which was contested yesterday between Wigan Athletic and Manchester City. My heartfelt congratulations go to Wigan, who were absolutely superb, winning the game 1-0 to bring the cup to Wigan. The game was illuminated by an outstanding display from the ex-Everton youngster, Callum McMannaman who has a very bright future ahead of him I’m sure.

As it happens, I missed the singing of Abide With Me – my absolute favourite hymn. When I was a kid, it was often played at funeral services. It always struck me as a poor choice for such occasions because, despite those beautiful words, I always wondered how anyone could bear to sing it under the circumstances. I far prefer to hear it sung at Wembley, and it still brings a tear to my eye every time.

The above video shows London Community Gospel Choir singing Abide With Me at the 2009 F.A. Cup Final between Chelsea and Everton – the last time we got to Wembley. I chose it for two reasons: the obvious one (being an Everton fan) and also because yesterday, Frank Lampard of Chelsea broke the club record for the most goals ever scored by a player, previously held by Bobby Tambling. Frank is a truly great player and I cannot think why Chelsea were ever considering releasing him at the end of the season though, as we all know, the club owner has a mind that is completely inscrutable at times.

What a week!

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