Fergie in spat with Keane as awful United crash out

 

Sir Alex Ferguson's raw emotion at his club's first Champions League group-stage exit in six years led him to round on his former captain Roy Keane last night, as Manchester United's hopes of finally eclipsing Barcelona collapsed into the grim prospect of Thursday-night football in the Europa League.

Keane, United's harshest critic when a player, said that the club "got what they deserved" in the course of a 2-1 defeat to Basle which saw them eliminated, six years to the day that they last exited at the group stage, against Benfica in Lisbon. He said he was "disturbed" by pre-match comments from midfielder, Phil Jones, that United were "relaxed" about the pressure. "I'd be getting hold of these players saying: 'You'd better buck your ideas up,'" Keane said.

"I don't know why you are bringing this up," replied Ferguson, after experiencing only his third group-stage elimination. "Roy has had an opportunity to prove himself as a manager and it's a hard job. We have enough good young players to see us through. That is the part of football you have to deal with. These young players will have to cope with it and get on with it in their careers."

Ferguson, whose side will be joined by Manchester City in the Europa League after their 2-0 win against Bayern Munich could not prevent Napoli qualifying, disclosed that his captain, Nemanja Vidic, had been taken off with a medial ligament injury which could see the defender out for two months.

Patrice Evra displayed the most shock. "It is embarrassing to be in the Europa League. I don't have the words to describe how I feel and all I can say is that it is a sad day," the Frenchman said. "It is not just about tonight, it is about the whole competition," he said. "We threw away the chance to qualify and from the beginning of the season we have not played well in the Champions League.

"Being in the Europa League will make it more difficult for us to win the Premier League but we deserve it. We need to play with heart and determination. We have to be honest and say we haven't been professional from the beginning of this competition. I don't know why. Maybe one or two of us have to look in the mirror and say we can do a lot better than we have done.

"I'll be honest; it is a strange feeling," Evra added. "It feels like a dream. But it is reality and we should have woken up earlier in this competition. We deserve to be out."

The City manager, Roberto Mancini, blamed a tough group for his exit. "I think that usually with 10 points all the teams go through: 99 per cent do. We made some mistakes but this can happen. Maybe now we think the Europa League is not an important trophy but if we reach the final it is," he said.

United's exit comes only 193 days after they lost to Barcelona in last season's Champions League final at Wembley, and 31 days before they face City in an FA Cup third round tie which now assumed huge significance for United. Dumped out of the Carling Cup by Crystal Palace last week, defeat to City will leave their season in ruins.

The meagre consolation is that City and United were, with Olympiakos, the best performing Champions League drop-outs, on a points basis, and will therefore face unseeded sides for the round of 32, with their away leg first. On the basis of the current Europa League standings, they could face Rubin Kazan, Besiktas or last season's finalists Braga, amongst others.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border