Sir Alex Ferguson refused to apologise for his "typical Germans" swipe at Bayern Munich yesterday, renewing his attack on Manchester United's Champions League conquerers in addition to hitting out at media coverage of his team's exit from Europe.
Ferguson's comment came in a television interview immediately in the wake of his team's 3-2 win over Bayern in midweek, after his team went out on away goals following Rafael's dismissal for a second yellow card.
He claimed that Bayern's players crowded referee Nicola Rizzoli, ensuring the young Brazilian defender, who had already been booked, was sent off for a tug on Franck Ribéry at the start of the second period, which turned the game in Bayern's favour. The United manager has been criticised by Bayern coach Louis van Gaal and president Uli Hoeness over his comments and, although Ferguson sought to put his remarks into context yesterday, there was no backing down. "It was the end of the game, right at the end of the game you have to do the interview, because of Uefa rules," Ferguson explained. "It's a bad time.
"The Germans let themselves down in the way they behaved to get him sent off. If they don't recognise that, there's nothing I can do about that. It was totally unfair getting the boy sent off. It was not a sending-off but they bullied the referee into it. He's a young referee and he succumbed to that pressure, because he wasn't going to send the boy off. I'm disappointed with that kind of behaviour.
"He barely touched him and, in fact, Ribéry did more to him than he did to Ribéry. The issue was how the Germans reacted and they knew the boy was on a yellow card, they surrounded the referee and that happens. We see it time and again with players waving an imaginary card to the referee, and he succumbed."
United led 3-0 on the night and were in control before Ivica Olic pulled a goal back and, after Rafael's dismissal, Arjen Robben scored Bayern's crucial second goal. Ferguson was also frustrated that his team's performance did not receive the credit he feels it merited and has been overshadowed by his comments, even claiming that sections of the British press were pleased when United lost the Champions League final to Barcelona last season: "People forget that the most important thing about Wednesday's match was how well we played but that was lost in the venom of the headlines. It's disgusting because the players deserved some praise; their performance was outstanding."
The exit against Bayern capped a gloomy week for United, who also surrendered their advantage in the title race with a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea at Old Trafford. Victory over Blackburn at Ewood Park will move United a point above Carlo Ancelotti's side, who are not in Premier League action until Tuesday night, against Bolton.
"If Chelsea make a mistake and we're winning our games, it'll be too late in the season to recover," Ferguson said. "That's the only advantage we've got. They've got difficult games but so have we. The only thing we can do is set out to win our matches. It's a hard task but the nature of our club shows we are capable. Five wins would give us a good chance but Chelsea will be thinking the same, and five wins gets them the title."
Allardyce not in mood to do favours despite A Friend's tip-off
The Blackburn Rovers manager, Sam Allardyce, enjoyed a day at Aintree with Sir Alex Ferguson this week – but insists that profiting from the United manager's hot tip – to back the Scots' winner What A Friend – will not tempt him to do Ferguson a favour when the sides meet tomorrow.
"We had a great day out," Allardyce said. "Getting a tip as hot as that one made it a great day for us. Most of the [Rovers] staff came back with an extra few bob in their pockets. But there's no chance [of doing United a favour in the title race]. United is a local derby and we want to do well. We can play against the best at Ewood Park – as we showed against Chelsea."Reuse content