THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

9 April ~ Prior to Manchester United's quarter-final tie against Bayern Munich, Alex Ferguson told a story about the grace shown by the Bayern players who lost out to United in the 1999 Champions League final. Ferguson was visiting Munich the following season to see them host Rangers when Ottmar Hitzfeld invited him to dine with him and his brothers after the game: "We were in a room that was just for directors and guests but every one of the Bayern players came through one at a time and shook my hand. I thought that was very nice of them." Perhaps Ferguson should remember these occasions when giving post-match interviews.

United were unlucky against Bayern but Ferguson was well beyond the realms of decency when he called the Munich players "typical Germans" for petitioning the referee to send off United's young defender Rafael. Perhaps Ferguson – who made tactical blunders in both legs – could learn something from Lorenz-Gunther Kostner, the Wolfsburg manager, whose side were knocked out of the Europa League by Fulham last night.

The German coach didn't look for excuses or someone to blame, but simply admitted that he and his team had come up short over the two legs: "We didn't have the team with enough bite and the right attitude. We made mistakes and we made the wrong substitutions. I'm sorry, the players are sorry. Fulham are a very good team with a very good defence and I'd always warned it was not going to be an easy game. If Fulham play in a very compact way like they did tonight then they have a very good chance of making the final."

The last two weeks have seriously derailed Manchester United's season but instead of taking his share of responsibility and offering congratulations to the opposition – like his German counterpart – Ferguson has blamed opposing players, referees and linesmen. The United manager is rightly heralded for his successes but his constant carping could see him remembered as much for the way he loses as for the times he has won. As Uli Hoeness, the Bayern Munich president, said on Wednesday night: "We lost in 1999 like gentlemen. Now United should do the same."

Comments (10)
Comment by kbmac 2010-04-09 13:43:32

While I don't disagree with the thrust of the article ie Ferguson should learn to be a bit more gracious in defeat, the creation of a bunker mentality of "everyone hates us and will cheat us" has always been part of the Ferguson philosophy from when he was Aberdeen manager. At Aberdeen it was the Glasgow-based media and Old Firm-biased referees who were the biggest target, while in Manchester it is referees again and certain sections of the media though this is slightly more difficult when you have such a sycophantic press. The irony of Ferguson complainign about players surrounding the ref will not be lost on anyone who witnessed his Aberdeen captain, Willie Miller, acting as referees advisor in almost every match he played.

Ferguson should learn to be more gracious in defeat but he probably doesn't want to.

Comment by reddybrek 2010-04-09 14:43:36

Yes Fergusons always been the biggest believer of his own hype.

The media has often praised his "mind games" and his "hair-dryer treatment" down the years but the truth is he's underchieved in Europe for Man Utd considering theyve had most of the financial muscle and a large batch of good youth players that he inherited from the youth team. 2 Champions Leagues and 1 Cup Winners Cup is poor return for 20 years in which Man Utd monopolised English football.

Any comparisons to Matt Busby, Jock Stein and Paisley are preposterous these men actually would have admitted to learn from foreign opponents - something Ferguson is too concieted to ever do

Comment by Tony C 2010-04-09 15:13:07

"Ferguson should learn to be more gracious in defeat but he probably doesn't want to".

I don't think he could if he wanted to. Graciousness - rather like humility- is simply not part of his DNA.

Comment by shadsworth cloud 2010-04-09 20:31:24

when you have to take lessons in humility from the likes of Uli Hoeness then you are in a pretty poor place

Comment by English Republic 2010-04-09 22:48:55

I could fully understand Ferguson's bitter and twisted rant. He is after all a "Typical Scot" isn't he?

Comment by jackofalltrades 2010-04-10 14:25:22

No great fan of SAF, apart from having the greatest of respect for his achievements, but at the same time this reminds me of a quote from Paul Newman (actor/racer) who said "Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser"

Comment by dunlop tyres 2010-04-11 22:23:23

Hardly anyone in the media seems to have mentioned the incredible hypocrisy of Ferguson; for years Man U have been the masters of surrounding the ref and influencing him - just typical Fergie!

Comment by pip 2010-04-13 07:59:02

Ludicrous premise for an article, hardly comparing like with like.

Comment by sudkurve 2010-04-13 09:32:54

Fergie hates losing a game of cards.Its inate within him and a big reason why he is a true winner.

Comment by johnnyutah01 2010-04-15 18:40:14

Okay, fair enough that "typical Germans" is a sign of someone chewing on sour grapes, but at the same time, the lack of sportsmanship shown by the Bayern players was shocking. I'm not saying United are angels (see pic: http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2009/11/28/1259439944830/United-players-complain-a-010.jpg), but it did leave a bad taste in the mouth.

That said, Rooney should have come off earlier and bringing Giggs on with 20 minutes to go wasn't going to do anything for United's chances. The guy is over the hill.

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