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Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson's top five excuses

After their 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane on Sunday, Manchester United’s manager Sir Alex Ferguson blamed the linesman, despite Spurs’ superior possession and shots on target stats.

United went 1-0 up after 25 minutes via a superb header from Robin van Persie but, after wave after wave of attacking play from the home side, United were undone in the 90th minute of the game by a well-placed strike from Clint Dempsey.

Ferguson said in his post-match interview of linesman Simon Beck,

“For me it was a poor performance from him, why he never gave a penalty I don't know. I think he had a shocking game today, he's had a bad game and we never got anything from that side of the pitch.”

The Red Devils may well have been unlucky not to have had a penalty awarded – however, I think, as Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas said, United were quite lucky to take a point from the game.

“We dominated the whole game, played well and deserved to win to be fair, We had 60 per cent possession against United, 15 shots against four and should have won,” said the Spurs boss.

And, with that, here are my five favourite ‘excuses’ from Ferguson….

The kit…

Back in April 1996, United found themselves 3-0 down at half time away to Southampton. The United manager blamed the grey shirts his team were wearing, claiming his players couldn’t see each other and promptly ordered them to change kit at half-time.

Ferguson explained,

"The players couldn't pick each other out,” after United ended up losing 3-1.

The pitch…

In 2001, United exited the FA Cup with a 1-0 defeat to West Ham and, whilst the majority of neutrals blamed goalkeeper Fabian Barthez for a lapse in concentration as Paulo Di Canio fired the Hammers through to the next round, Ferguson blamed the grass.

“I can't believe Manchester United have allowed rugby matches to be played on the pitch. The biggest club in the world, and they have to play rugby every bloody November - and the pitch is a mess after it. You'd think they would learn a bloody lesson and it's an absolute disgrace." he complained, in reference to the Super League Grand Final played several months prior.

The ref…

Ferguson’s complaints over referees are numerous – from implying the referee is overweight, to suggestions they should undergo eye tests, officials never look forward to making tough decisions against United, for fear and dread that they will be ridiculed and undermined by the Scot’s post-match wrath.

Back in October 2009, Ferguson was handed a two-match touchline ban after he called referee Alan Wiley “unfit” in the wake of a 2-2 home draw with Sunderland.

Just weeks later, the United boss also accused referee Martin Atkinson of being “absolutely ridiculous” after he gave a free kick to Chelsea that won the Blues the game at Stamford Bridge and he questioned the “experience” of referee Andre Marriner after United lost 2-0 to Liverpool at Anfield that same season.

Alongside comments about the referees and their linesman’s are the now infamous comments and visible watch-checking to and for the benefit of the fourth officials who never seem to allocate what is now termed ‘Fergie Time’.

Back in September of last year, following Spurs’ 1-0 victory over United at Old Trafford, Ferguson said of the injury time allocated as United searched for an equalizer:

"They gave us four minutes. That's an insult to the game. It denies you a proper chance to win a football match."

The sun…

United were dumped out of the FIFA Club World Cup back in 2000 thanks to a couple of errors from Gary Neville which Vasco Da Gama capitalized on to win the game 3-1.

Ferguson blamed the sunset as the reason behind his side’s poor and sub-par display, claiming that it was shining directly into the eyes of his players in he first half but had set by the time Vasco switched ends at half-time.

“If we had come through the first half hour with the sun I felt we would have been okay,” conceded the manager but still insisted:

“We were the best team in this tournament. Definitely.”

…and everything under the sun.

Back in the 2008 Manchester derby at the City of Manchester Stadium, Cristiano Ronaldo received a red card for what was a clear and blatant handball.

However, Ferguson believed his star player was unlucky to get his marching orders for the infringement. Here’s why:

He tried to stop the ball from hitting his face… He thought he had heard a whistle… He got a little push... It was not as if he punched the ball... The crowd played a part and he got sent off."

Ahh, I see.

image: © Andrea Sartorati

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