News of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement was met with ambivalence from the Yorkshire Evening Post.
Photograph: Andrew Yates/AFP/Getty Images FERGIE FAREWELL …
To which there was some ambivalence, perhaps best illustrated by the Yorkshire Evening Post , honouring the occasion in its singular style by asking readers: “Fergie retires: Tell us your memories of Leeds United pipping Man Utd to the league title …” Expectations of the Post ‘s publication of a special zero-page supplement were also honoured.
However, those wanting to celebrate a remarkable career need look no further than an entire evening reliving the 1998-99 treble-winning season.
After Sir Alex is presented with his 13th and final Premier League trophy on Sunday, ESPN Classic is showing three programmes (from 9.25pm); the first covers the FA Cup final, the second, the Champions League victory over Bayern and the strand concludes with highlights from the league season United won on the final day.
OLYMPIAN ON THE WATER …
Is Ed McKeever, who having won gold at the London Games in the kayak K1 200m event returns to the water in the first round of the ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup in Hungary (day three, Eurosport, Sunday, 9am).
World champion in 2010 and a silver medallist in 2011, McKeever is dominant in his class.
He will be joined by fellow Olympians, the K2 200m sprint bronze medallists Liam Heath and Jon Schofield.
It also ties in with Go Canoeing Week, designed to encourage involvement in the sport.
Beginning on Saturday (18 May), there are chances to pick up a paddle and take part.
AVE MARIA …
Comes in the form of Maria Sharapova, who has a chance of swiping the world No1 spot from Serena Williams should she win at the Madrid Open on Sunday (Eurosport, 4.30pm).
Which is perfect preparation for the French Open, beginning on 21 May.
Sharapova goes into the final surfing a 21-game winning run on clay a surface with which she used to be so uncomfortable that she likened herself on it to a “cow on ice” and follows it immediately with the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome (begins , Eurosport).
It’s one of the biggest events on clay outside of the grand slam in Paris and clearly where this heifer feels at home; she won there last year before going on to take the title at Roland Garros.
MADRID CUP DERBY …
While Jos Mourinho’s Real remain, mathematically, within reach of Barcelona for the La Liga title, he must focus his attention on what will probably be the only silverware his side pick up this season and, indeed, quite possibly his last with the club.
They face Atl tico in the Copa del Rey on Friday (Sky Sports 1, 8pm) at the Bernab u, in what should be a terrific derby, with a surging Atl tico determined to see the Special One off empty handed.
Elsewhere, Milan bid to secure a Serie A Champions League spot with a win over Roma on Sunday (ESPN, 7.45pm).
Takes place at Brands Hatch, where he will be wielding a biro for fans at the British round of the marvellously named Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, or DTM.
That’s the German touring car championship to you and I.
Often throwing up great racing, these top-speed tin-tops put on a mighty show on the Indy circuit at Brands.
It’s all next Sunday (19 May) (race: ESPN, 12.15pm) and there’s also the chance to win a ride with Button, details: brandshatch.co.uk.
Furber urges Scott and McGlynn, London 2012 Paralympic Games, track day two, afternoon
GB Para-cycling lead coach Chris Furber admitted that his move to British Swimming has come at the “right time”.
Furber left British Cycling yesterday after 13 years ahead of him commencing his role as Disability National Performance Director at BS on May 13.
In his seven-year spell working with this country’s leading para-cyclists, he has helped them top the medal table at the Beijing and London Paralympic Games.
“British Cycling has been a big part of my life for 13 years, but I felt the time was right to embark on a new challenge,” he told Cycling Weekly last month.
“I was fully prepared to stay until after Rio, but I received a call from British Swimming about the position there.
“I never thought I would get it, and when they offered it to me, it was a big decision to accept.”
“Sea change in the sport”Furber joined BC in 2000, and started off as a BMX and mountain bike administrator. Two years in he became a coach for the north west Talent Team and worked with teenagers Jason Kenny, Shanaze Reade and Matt Crampton.
But it was with the GB Para-cycling team that he made his name.
“The job came up in 2006 – National Sprint Coach Iain Dyer told me to put my name forward for it, I spoke to Dave Brailsford about it too and it made sense to apply,” he recalls.
Furber celebrates another medal at the London Paralympics
Britain finished fourth in the medal table at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens, although Australia, then the world’s best, won more golds than Britain’s combined medal tally.
“We were at the beginning of the sea change in para-cycling. I think the standard was fairly low at the time, which is completely different to what we saw at the London Games last summer.
“What the British team achieved in Beijing 17 golds and three silver medals set the benchmark for the rest of the world to follow.
The team in 2008 were an incredible bunch of athletes, and a great group of people to work with.”
New challengeFurber has a similar challenge in his new role: Britain finished seventh in the pool in the London, down from second in 2004.
“They’re looking for change – their market share of gold medals has fallen since Athens,” he said.
“They’ve got some great athletes, coaches and behind the scenes staff, and I don’t think it will take much to get them back on track.
I think a new, outside approach will help.”
He is the latest in an ever-growing list of BC employees who have been approached by other sports in need of improving performances.
Matt Parker went from being Head of Marginal Gains to Head of Athletic Performance for the England Rugby Team, and former sprint coach Scott Parker was today appointed as GB Canoeing Head Sprint Coach.
Jon-Allan Butterworth and Furber inside the London Velodrome
“I think when people see you have British Cycling’ written on your CV, it is highly attractive,” said Furber.
“There’s the success, but it is not just that.
I think the attention to detail, the winning mindset, the questioning approach are also just as important.”
Although he will swap the track and the road for the swimming pool in his new role, some things will be fairly similar for Furber.
“My last trip with the GB Para-cycling team was to Majorca, and my first in my job is there as well!”