I’m writing this article, as a Chelsea fan, let me tell you that from the start. But, in no way do I think that affects my judgement or makes this article any more biased. But quite frankly, after Ferguson’s comments today, I’ve had enough and decided to write this piece.
With the Manchester derby coming up on Sunday, in what many are saying is the biggest game of the season so far, with the two Manchester clubs facing each other for the first time since that famous climax at the end of the 2011/12 season. There’s no doubts that this is going to be a grudge match of the highest order, with United seemingly wanting revenge after missing out on their 20th league title.
Now, SAF undoubtedly is the greatest manager of all time, and it does hurt me to type those words. But the thing is with SAF, in my eyes he steps over the line far too much with some of his comments, which have clearly been made in order to influence the referees when it comes to big games in United’s seasons. On countless times over the year’s, Fergie has said in the press a week before a game how certain decisions have gone against his side in the past, or the luck has favored the opposing team when it comes to either penalties or stoppage time, in order to influence the officials. That’s the short of it.
Ferguson wants to plant that seed in the officials’ heads before a big game, with the hope that the referees will remember this when it comes to the match. So for example with this latest statement, Ferguson talked about Manchester City’s long unbeaten record. You knew when this question was asked, that Ferguson wasn’t simply going to say, ‘yeah they’ve deserved that record 100%’. Then it really would be another sign of the apocalypse! But nope, he brought up how Manchester City have had 21 penalties since 2010/11, with 20 of them being away. Now why is Ferguson saying this? It’s very obvious.
Ferguson is hoping that by saying this, it will influence the referees’ mind when it comes to a contentious decision on Sunday. If a Manchester City player goes down in the penalty area, and the fans and players appeal for it, will the referee give the penalty? Or will he be thinking, ‘they get too many penalties, I won’t give this one’. It’ll probably be the latter unfortunately.
But the thing is, this is nothing new with Ferguson. He’s been fined in the past for making comments about referees before games, and although this wasn’t said directly, everyone can see the man’s motive with this statement, with the idea being to give his side any advantage they can before the big game. Fining Ferguson for these comments won’t stop it, that’s the truth. For him I’d sure he’d take a £20,000 fine if it meant his side winning more games. I’d even put money on the fact that he wouldn’t even pay that fine, the club would pay it for him.
Until Ferguson decides to retire or leave the game, whichever way it is, he’ll continue to work in this way and speak this way before big games. He even comes out and supports referees' decisions when others may have criticised it, with the motive of making it seem as if he's on the same side as the referees. For example with the whole Mark Clattenburg racial incident, which occurred after a game that Manchester United benefited fully from with a contentious red card, and offside goal, he came out and supported the referee and said Chelsea were 'out of order'. Even though Chelsea were making an allegation of a racist incident. Would Ferguson have been saying the same if the shoe had been on the other foot? But the fact is, that the press and journalists of the tabloids also won’t dare write an article about how this could influence a referees decision, and that’s simply because they’re all terrified of the man, or from the North themselves so support what he says for the good of selling newspapers. A word of criticism about Ferguson in a newspaper just doesn't happen.
Journalists across the country don’t want to anger Ferguson, or write anything that is negative about SAF or his side, simply because they’re either scared of the backlash they’ll get from the man himself, or they’ll simply be banned from Manchester United press conferences. With United being a mainstay near the top of the league, journalists can’t afford to be banned from his press conferences. I remember one incident in the weeks leading up to the Champions League final, when a journalist asked a question about Ryan Giggs, which is fair considering that it was in the news that week. What did Ferguson do? He was heard talking to the club secretary saying they’d try to ban the journalist for asking the question. Hardly promoting freedom of speech or freedom of the press are we Fergie!
You can understand though, why he does all of this, especially recently. The fact is, this is probably one of the poorest United squads that Ferguson’s been involved with, leaking goals for fun, and only where they are without the goals of RVP, who’s turned out to be the signing of the season. The reason he’s making these comments, is because he knows that, on paper at least, there are sides which are better than his one. The fact is that with Ferguson as manager, players will always give that little bit extra, and always have that little bit more of an advantage when it comes to some decisions, but certainly not all I must stress.
There are countless other incidents similar to this, including occasions when he’s snapped at the journalists, including a time when he walked out of a press conference after a journalist asked why his side were struggling. Ferguson replied they weren’t struggling in the Champions League, and yet a few weeks later they went out in the group stages.
But, I’m rambling here, and United fans will probably already be preparing their responses to this article with the words ‘biased’ probably being thrown around. But honestly, I don’t think there is anything there that can be argued about. The man has led his side to so many trophies, but the rest of the footballing world is looking forward to seeing the back of him, not only for his continued success, but the way he conducts himself in his interviews and press conferences. As it stands, fans of other clubs don’t think there’s a level playing field, so it’ll be an interesting day when a Manchester United side go out without Ferguson at the helm. Although I do have to say I hate the man as a Chelsea supporter and for some of the rubbish he comes out with to the press, you can see why he does this, and why his sides have been so successful over the years. It should be a cracker of a game on Sunday, don't miss it!