Ferguson should be the last to complain

Alex Ferguson berating referee MIke Dean
Like clockwork Sir Alex Ferguson yet again felt the need to play the victim of an event which he has no say in. You would expect a man to lose his sharp edge and temper a bit when his age gets on. Yet Fergie (71) more resembles a ticking time bomb than a man who has heard and seen it all.

Thursday Spurs signed former Manchester United academy player Ezekiel Fryers in a situation which Ferguson described as “a blatant manipulation of the rules”.

Ferguson said: “I think the league should look into it and I think they should stop his registration until they examine it.”

United are yet to make a formal complaint to the Premier League. It remains to be seen if they will, given Ferguson’s further comments:

“Tottenham did nothing wrong as he went to Standard Liege. They tried to buy him off us and we’d been looking for a certain figure.”

A spokesman released the following statement on behalf of Tottenham Hotspur: “Zeki enjoyed his time at Standard – however, when Standard sacked their manager in November Zeki wasn’t part of the new manager’s plans which he accepts and understands happens in football.

“Unfortunately, a combination of this and the fact he had become homesick meant he wanted to return to England.

“His representatives made contact with clubs in England. This afforded us a second opportunity to sign the player and as per FIFA’s solidarity contribution mechanism, Manchester United will receive 5% of the transfer fee we have paid.”

Tottenham were already interested in Fryers last Summer. The 20-year old defender joined Spurs during pre-season whilst Spurs and Manchester United were hoping to agree a compensation fee for the out-of-contract youngster at an FA tribunal.

United demanded £6m for the player, a ridiculous amount of money for an out-of-contract player. So the deal collapsed and in stead of moving to Spurs Fryers moved to Standard Liège.

A bold move for a youngster but clearly United were looking for silly money from any English club. Fryers was basically held hostage at the price of £6m. He was forced to move abroad unless any English club was willing to pay the figure quoted by United.

It was reported that Fryers was offered a new contract at United, including a £5,000-per-week salary. Although considerable money to most, in the world of football that’s loose change. United tried the same with other academy players like Ravel Morrison and Paul Pogba. Both also refused to accept United’s offer and moved to West Ham United and Juventus respectively.

So what’s the big deal Fergie? Your club low-balls young players, hoping your bullying comments, the club’s rich history and the somewhat false promise of first team football will take these youngster’s breath away? Why should these youngsters settle for any offer United proposes? Especially in Pogba’s case it shows that his move was an inspired one. Pogba has impressed since joining Juventus, has already featured in 10 Serie A games so far this season and is probably getting more game time than he would’ve got at Old Trafford.

United themselves are no strangers to controversial dealings involving young players. They were accused of tapping up Paul Pogba by offering his parents vast sums of money to terminate the youngster’s contract at French club Le Havre. Similar accusations were made against Chelsea involving Gaël Kakuta. Kakuta was fined € 780,000 and Chelsea were banned from signings players for 2 consecutive transfer windows.

The Pogba case came in front of a FIFA committee and United were cleared of wrongdoing, yet they did agree a deal with Le Havre regarding Pogba’s registration, leading Le Havre to drop any potential appeal. Unsurprisingly the terms of the deal remained confidential.


Ferguson is a repeat offender when it comes to verbally abusing referees. You don’t have to go back that far for his latest offence. During United’s home game against Newcastle the Manchester United manager was involved in an embarrassing tirade aimed at referee Mike Dean. Ferguson was clearly unhappy with Newcastle’s second goal, judging by the red glow that took over his face whilst he was berating Dean before the kick-off in the second half.

It was a scandalous display and how on earth he did not get a fine and a touchline ban for it, no one knows. The man shows no respect for match officials and compared to other managers he seems to be able to get away with murder. Other managers have been asked to explain their questionable comments or behaviour in front of an FA committee. But Fergie? No, he got away with it.

Yet, Ferguson felt so embarrassed by the commotion about his actions he felt the need to bring up Alan Pardew’s incident, involving him pushing a linesman, and resorted to a low blow by calling Newcastle “a wee club”. Is that taking responsibility for your own actions? Are those signs of a manager worthy of the supposedly ‘undisputed’ class of Manchester United? I don’t think so.

The media

Another example of Ferguson’s poor behaviour is his silly boycott of Match of the Day‘s post-match interviews. He was unhappy with a BBC documentary titled ‘Fergie And Son‘, which raised questions about the business relationship between Manchester United and Ferguson’s football agent son, Jason. Ferguson described the documentary as a “horrible attack on my son’s honour”. Although Jason Ferguson was never found guilty of any of the allegations raised in the BBC documentary, it is at least surprising neither he nor his father have ever sued the BBC for libel.

Although he initially kept his stance, Ferguson ended his boycott of Match of the Day in 2011 amidst looming fines by the Premier League for not complying with his press obligations. Funnily enough, he did not get an apology although he did demand one initially. The boycott of a media outlet which programming is so broad and diverse that it spreads over 4 TV channels, 6 radio channels and online seems rather silly, especially given the BBC’s ability to criticise its own publications like we have seen in recent events involving BBC Two’s Newsnight.

Ferguson also showed his lack of tolerance by banning Sky cameras from Manchester United’s press conferences after Sky Sports showed footage of Ferguson trying to identify a reporter from Associated Press who had asked a question he did not like. He told one of United’s press officers: “We’ll get him. Ban him on Friday”. In a way Ferguson would be a perfect fit for the role of coach of North Korea’s national team.

Tapping up

Spurs have been no strangers to Ferguson’s tapping up tactics. Fergie once likened player agents to rats. Yet he has no problem with tapping up players who are contracted to other clubs. When he wants a player he will let the player, his agent, and most importantly the media know. The club who holds the player’s current registration is the least of his worries. He likes to create a scenario in which a transfer seems inevitable. A scene in which United’s negotiation position seems to be invincible and unflappable.

Spurs even reported United to the FA over alleged tapping up of Dimitar Berbatov ahead of the Bulgarian’s move to Old Trafford. The case was eventually dropped as part of the transfer agreement, but Ferguson couldn’t help himself when asked about the allegations.

“It’s embarrassing for them but you know what Daniel Levy is like. He’s different.”

It is pretty clear that there’s no love lost between United and Spurs and Levy and Ferguson in particular. In the light of their previous feuds it is hardly a surprise the United manager is looking to cause such a stir regarding Fryer’s transfer to Spurs.

I guess it was also embarrassing for Fergie when United reported Real Madrid for tapping up Cristiano Ronaldo, yet the Portuguese got his dream move even after the United manager threatened that The Glazers would put Ronaldo in the stands. I guess the Glazers didn’t have Ferguson’s back like he expected them to.

These are the double standards which seem to be tolerated in exchange for success and managerial stability at Old Trafford.

Bad role model

Ferguson has been a bully for many years, yet he is being held in high regard by many in the world of football. Pundits, ex-players, managers, association officials  journalists. No one seems to dare to call Ferguson out on his bullshit. Yes, he has won many titles and trophies with United, but does that warrant his classless and intolerable behaviour towards referees, colleagues, the FA and others?

Manchester United is quickly becoming the new Liverpool: a club that presumes everyone is involved in a big conspiracy against them. But they have one big advantage, they have a man who can dish it out like no other and gets away with it.

Ferguson’s behaviour has set the norm for berating referees at every level, whether it’s the Premier League or grass-roots football. He has not invented it but he has greatly contributed to the level to which it is being condoned today.

So how can a man whose club enjoys often inexplicable added minutes called ‘Fergie Time‘, whose team are awarded the most debatable penalties of any Premier League club, who is notorious for his tapping up of other clubs’ players and has a terrible reputation of berating referees complain about a perfectly legal transfer? Spurs and Daniel Levy complied with FIFA regulations and United even receive 5% of the fee. Take that money and put it on the horses, you old complaining git.

At the end of the day this latest episode of Fergie’s vindictive rants will go away like all the others did. But given the fact Spurs play United at White Hart Lane in two weeks time his latest rant has all all the characteristics of classic Fergie mind games. It’s the kind of thing you would expect him to do. It has his fingerprints all over it…


Dutch Spurs fan, football connoisseur and ambassador of free-flowing attacking football.

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