United season review: Ferguson never lost for words
One thing you can guarantee from a campaign covering Mancester United press conferences and monitoring after-match TV interviews is that you will end up with a handful of Fergie classics. Whether the United boss is having a go at referees, the opposition or journalists, the quotes can be like diamonds. Pithy, barbed or funny you cannot ignore it when Sir Alex Ferguson is on his soapbox or when he has a microphone pushed under his nose in a post-game scenario. The cold killer stare, the hair-dryer or when you most expect him to explode, you can get the calm measured response! It can be edge-of-your-seat stuff and tin hats on at times, but the Reds manager can fill column inches and airtime like no other football boss. This season has been no exception starting in September when, following the 4-3 derby win at Old Trafford against City, he said: "Sometimes you have a noisy neighbour. They will always be noisy. You just have to get on with your life, put your television on and turn it up a bit louder." Interviewers know they will land a big one if Fergie bites on referees and after United's 2-2 draw at Old Trafford against Sunderland it was official Alan Wiley who got it in the neck. "He was not fit enough for a game of that standard," Ferguson said. "The pace of the game demanded a referee who was fit. It is an indictment of our game. You see referees abroad who are as fit as butchers' dogs. "We have some who are fit. He wasn't fit. He was taking 30 seconds to book a player. He was needing a rest. It was ridiculous." When Brazilian right-back Rafael was sent off against Bayern Munich in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final tie, it signalled United's Euro demise. Fergie was asked if the red card had changed the course of the game and dipped into undiplomatic mode! He said: "There is no doubt about it. They were never getting through that tie, with 11 men we had no problem. The young boy showed a bit of inexperience but they got him sent off. "Everyone sprinted towards the referee - typical Germans." The concern for many throughout United's campaign was what would befall the Reds if talisman Wayne Rooney was injured. The debate heightened as the campaign reached its climax but Ferguson had grown weary of it and snapped when a reporter asked about the Rooney doomsday scenario in a press conference two days after the striker's double in Italy against AC Milan. "I'm not even thinking about that," he blasted, obviously fed up of the whole topic. There is no secret that the David Beckham media circus irritated Fergie when he was at Old Trafford and hastened his departure in 2003. So when the Champions League last 16 draw paired United with AC Milan and their on-loan star Beckham, the hype took off. By the time Fergie sat down for his pre-match press conference in the San Siro 24 hours before the first leg tie in Italy he'd clearly had enough of the Becks mania. First question was about Beckham. "That's three seconds," Ferguson exclaimed. "Bloody hell!"
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