Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson skipped media commitments after his side were knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid.
Real were 2-1 winners in Tuesday’s last-16 second leg at Old Trafford, but only after a controversial refereeing decision turned the tie in the Spanish champions’ favour.
United winger Nani, who set up the opening goal of the game, saw a red card in the 56th minute after what was deemed as a dangerous lunge on Real defender Alvaro Alberoa.
Within 15 minutes United had conceded twice and were denied any comeback heroics by the reflexes of Real goalkeeper Diego Lopez.
Ferguson was described as ‘distraught’ by United assistant Mike Phelan, who attended the post-match press conference in the 71-year-old’s absence.
“We’re extremely disappointed,” said Phelan. “Everybody was sat in the dressing room there wondering what had happened and why it happened.
“It’s a very distraught dressing room and a distraught manager and that’s why I’m sat here in front of you now.”
The Red Devils were furious after the match, with the United players surrounding referee Cuneyt Cakir after the final whistle.
An irate Ferguson also stormed off the field following the final whistle.
“No I don’t think the manager is in any fit state to talk to the referee about the decision,” continued Phelan when asked if Ferguson has spoken to Cakir.
“I think it speaks volumes that I’m sat here, speaking to you at this moment in time and not the manager of this fantastic football club.
“I think we all saw and we all witnessed a decision which seemed very harsh, possibly incredible at that moment in the game.”
Phelan believed United were on top before the controversial dismissal, having scored within minutes of the restart, and felt playing a side of Real’s quality with just 10 men was an almost impossible task.
“We felt as though we had the tactics right for the game on such a big occasion,” added Phelan.
“We felt as though we were comfortable at times at 0-0 – it’s where we wanted to be. We came out, scored the goal which put us in a commanding position.
“After that we were in reasonable control – we created a couple of chances but then the game totally changed. The decision was amazing but we had to carry on.
“Playing Madrid with 11 men is very difficult. And a game of this magnitude with all the world watching, we feel very disappointed that we ended the game with 10 men.”