6 Feb 2013

Could Sir Alex Have Saved Gazza From Self Destruction?

Gascoigne pictured before leaving for Rehab
The shocking images of Paul Gascoigne on the front of this weeks tabloids portrayed an ex football genius who has sadly struggled to cope with life after the beautiful game.

Arguably the most gifted English player of all time is now in America undergoing rehabilitation for an alcohol addiction that is threatening to bring the former players life to an end prematurely.

If Gazza had been protected better and looked after when he hung his boots up, could he have been saved from attempting to self destruct? Would Sir Alex Ferguson have been able to keep him on the straight and narrow if the player had signed for Manchester United in 1988, after verbally agreeing to join the club before deciding to join Tottenham Hotspur because they offered to buy his mother and father a house?

Gazza has never shied away from the fact that hanging his boots up was the start of his problems, once adored by millions, he turned to alcohol to try and achieve the same fix of euphoria that he got from playing football, sadly this was the start of his decline.

Many believe that Gazza should have been offered some kind of role within the Football Association to keep him busy. He has so much experience of the game and talent that he should have been able to pass on his experiences of his playing time to the next generation of footballers coming through, sadly this never happened, but would it have happened if Gazza had chosen Manchester instead of London?

Choosing Manchester in 1988 would have meant that Sir Alex Ferguson would have been in charge of managing the player, a manager who has proved over his 26 year spell with the club that he has the credentials to man manage superstar talents who have diverse personalities, could Sir Alex have provided a long term structure for the player that would have seen the ex genius still working at Manchester United's Carrington training complex in a coaching role? Would he be an ambassador for the Reds working regularly on Uniteds MUTV channel keeping his mind focused?

I'm obviously talking hypothetically, but I believe that there is no doubt that Gazza would have been a success at Old Trafford, his spells at Tottenham, Lazio and Glasgow Rangers have proved that.

Manchester United would have been a fantastic fit for Paul Gascoigne, the supporters would have adored him, the manager would have acted as a father figure towards him and most importantly, the club would not have turned their back on him when his time as a player had ended like the FA did. A player who gave so much for England should have been looked after far better when you consider the problems he has faced.

The Paul Gascoigne situation is very similar to that of the late George Best, both were a genius with a football at their feet who also had an alcohol addiction, lets hope that Gazza can fight his demons and his self destructing ways before its too late.The recent shocking images of the former player, who looks a lot older than the 45 years that his birth certificate displays, are not the images we want to remember him by. 

Hopefully he is back on the straight and narrow soon and we can replace the recent alarming images of him with past iconic ones, like his eyes welling up in Italy at World Cup 1990 following a booking that would have ruled him out of the final if England had progressed.

I can't help but wonder if things would have turned out different for Paul Gascoigne in the long term if he had made the switch to Manchester United and worked under Sir Alex Ferguson, we will never know.