Ron Atkinson in Dubai

We speak to 'Big Ron' ahead of Euro 2012 final

Interview, The Knowledge

Hello Ron! So, how do you rate Euro 2012 so far?
I’ve done eight or nine tournaments and you can rate this with the best – Euro ’80 in Italy, Euro ’96 in England…This has probably been as good as any.

What have been the biggest surprises?
The two biggest surprises are Russia and Holland [being eliminated] – I fancied Holland to go all the way. Watching them, you just got vibes: you think nothing’s going to go in for them. It’s nothing to do with preparation. They have the best centre forward in Europe with Robin van Persie – every time he’s had a touch this year in the Premiership it’s gone in the net, and you’d have expected him to take two or three away here.

As we talk to you there are eight teams left in the tournament, and there will be four by the time we hit the shelves. Who do you fancy?
Right now, Germany – they’ve had a great tournament so far, they’re in a real run of form. For the neutral, the ideal final would be Germany v Spain.

Goal of the tournament so far?

[Cristiano] Ronaldo’s second goal against Holland. A lot of people thought it was just a tap-in, but the composure he showed to put it in like that...

And star of the tournament?
The true stars of the tournament are the Irish fans – they’ve really excelled themselves. They always do.

What do you make of England’s performance?
We’ve stuck at it. We haven’t played an exciting game. If you were a neutral you wouldn’t be impressed, but if you’re English and you’ve seen the disasters we’ve had over the years when we’ve had far better players in the team, it’s encouraging to see us so strong. Getting to the quarter finals – you can’t complain about that. Anything else is a bonus.

Looking back at your five years managing Manchester United, what’s the greatest lesson you learned?
The art of management is simply how you deal with situations when they occur.

How long do you think Sir Alex Ferguson will stay there in your old job?
I think he’ll do another two years at least – he enjoys it. He’ll try not to go while [Manchester] City are on top.

Your media work has really died down since 2004. Do you miss being on the TV?
I do, because I was very good at it. In fact, I was the best!

What would you say to a job out here in the Gulf?

You never say never. If a situation came up that suited me and the wife... I’ve been coming to Dubai since 1991, I’ve been here about 25 times now, and I do have an affinity with the area.

Ron Atkinson offers matchday analysis at the Mövenpick Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel on Wednesday June 27, Thursday June 28 and Saturday July 1. Packages from Dhs175 (04 444 5613).

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