Tuesday, May 30, 2023

No sign of Fergie backing down

Not backing down

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article accusing Sir Alex Ferguson of hypocrisy over referees. It followed his comments about Martin Atkinson after United’s defeat at Chelsea. That game came just a few days after he and the United staff had publicly backed the referee who did not send off Wayne Rooney for a blatant elbow.


Now Sir Alex has rounded on some of his critics to accuse them of the same thing. Responding to comments from Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish and former England boss Graham Taylor, Sir Alex had made a resounding defence of his position.

The criticism of Fergie surrounded his comments that he had wanted a ‘fair’ referee for the Chelsea game and that he had ‘feared the worst’ when he saw that Atkinson was going to be in charge.


The FA have charged Sir Alex and Dalglish was critical when interviewed shortly afterwards. He said that at Liverpool they fully agree with and adhere to the FA respect campaign that demands support and respect for all match officials. Dalglish went on to say,

“Sometimes you think the ones who shout loudest get the more beneficial decisions and that would be totally unfair.”


Graham Taylor went even further. Writing in the Daily Express newspaper. He accused Ferguson of ‘rank hypocrisy’. He said,

“Sometimes his conduct is not what you would expect of a manager of his stature”.

Ferguson spoke to United review and said that ‘some people have short memories’.


In relation to Dalglish, Fergie reminded us of the FA Cup game between the two a while ago in which United were awarded a penalty and Liverpool defender Daniel Agger was sent off. After the game Dalglish described the decisions as ‘a joke’, and Liverpool’s Ryan Babel posted a mocked up picture of referee Howard Webb in a Manchester United shirt on his twitter page.

Ferguson said,

“People have short memories. Kenny Dalglish looked to be lecturing me in the papers about the need to respect referees, perhaps forgetting that not so long ago his players were tweeting critically all over the place about Howard Webb.”


In relation to Graham Taylor, Ferguson pointed to an incident made famous in the infamous documentary, ‘Do I not like that’, when Taylor remonstrated with a linesman as England lost to Holland meaning they wouldn’t qualify for the 1994 World Cup.

“I was disappointed with Graham Taylor, who wrote that I had to take ‘the rough with the smooth’. I think back to when he was England manager and was complaining to a linesman: ‘The referee has got me the sack.'”

In relation to the FA charge, Fergie shows no sign of backing down,


“I will be defending myself strongly when my FA appeal hearing comes up. In fact, I am looking forward to the challenge because, to my mind, I have not said anything out of place, however much the media urge the FA to take action.”

Maybe Sir Alex is right. Maybe it is time to accept that managers will say things that they probably shouldn’t when they are full of emotion at the end of a game. Maybe it is also time for managers to stop passing judgement on others in the same line of business.

I certainly don’t always agree with Ferguson, but this occasion I think I do.


Graham Fisher



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