Today I pay tribute to two septuagenarians it has become fashionable to disrespect, despite their unqualified, remarkable and almost unique long-term success. It is such a sad British trait to knock down those who in other societies would be national treasures. Bizarrely, merely to name them will have some readers frothing at the mouth.
One, Sir Paul McCartney, judged by recent live performances, has begun to decline. At 70 his voice may not be what it was – nor in truth is his recent ouevre up to the standards of his earlier decades. However, other musicians should have such problems. His back catalogue will live long beyond his retirement and death, and has been the soundtrack to a generation’s lives. Today, he gives an unusually candid interview to our arts editor David Lister.
Sir Alex Ferguson is, arguably, still at the very top of his game after 26 years as Manchester United’s manager, an achievement as astonishing for its longevity in the ultimate short-lifetime career as it is for his continuing success. As United unveil his statue there will be the usual sniping from haters that he has bought success, but there are so many other managers in that time who have spent big to no avail. Mark Hughes, sacked yesterday by QPR, is the latest in a long line who have tried and failed. Yes, his forthright manner and mind games wind rivals up, but he is unquestionably the best manager of the modern era in Britain, way ahead of his only rival, Arsene Wenger, and with few peers (Mourinho, Guardiola) abroad.
To me Macca and Fergie’s “crime” is to grow old in public with continued success. So, let’s put the green-eyed monster back in its box, and salute them both for doing what so many only dream of. So, hate me.