Ferguson's 'virus' gibe stokes Real ill feeling

United manager hits back at latest Ronaldo rumour with outspoken denial

Sir Alex Ferguson launched his most scathing attack yet on Real Madrid when he said yesterday that he would not sell the Spanish club "a virus", let alone Cristiano Ronaldo. Manchester United will also today take the fight to the Football Association, which leaked the details of Patrice Evra's ban hearing from the "Battle of Stamford Bridge" before the player had decided that he would not appeal.

Ferguson's stinging criticism of Real came in response to a claim that the club already have a contract to sign Ronaldo, 23, in the summer. "Do you think I would enter into a contract with that mob?" he said. "Absolutely no chance. I would not sell them a virus. That is a 'No' by the way. There is no agreement whatsoever between the clubs."

After he previously evoked Real's links to the fascist regime of General Franco, it now seems that Ferguson's opinion of the club, whom United could be paired with in today's Champions League draw, has fallen even further. He was responding to claims in a Spanish newspaper that the Real director Pedro Trapote had seen the details of a contract between the two clubs for Ronaldo's transfer.

Ferguson said: "I said to David Gill [Manchester United's chief executive] a year last summer when we sold Gabriel Heinze that he [Gill] could bet his life this stuff will all start up around Ronaldo in January. It will happen again this January.

"We just have to ignore it. If we keep worrying about what Real Madrid have to say, we are not concentrating on our own publicity and the programme of difficult games we have got coming up. I've got to ignore it. Sometimes it can be an angry situation and sometimes I get really annoyed with them. But we know their game. I think we should play ours and ignore it all."

The United manager spoke after his side's 5-3 victory over Gamba Osaka in the semi-final of the Fifa Club World Cup in Yokohama, Japan. It is there in the early hours of this morning that Gill will make his displeasure known to the FA chairman, Lord Triesman, about the governing body's decision to leak the full judgement over the Evra-Chelsea disciplinary hearing. As revealed in The Independent yesterday, the commission's judgement was scathing about the behaviour of United players and officials during the brawl at Stamford Bridge on 26 April. It left the club's hierarchy furious that the FA had made an example of them. It is not the usual practice of the FA to publish the full judgement of a hearing; indeed, it has done it only once in the recent past, when Luton Town were disciplined for irregular payments to agents in July.

It is understood that the FA made the content of the ruling – around 8,000 words – freely available on its website from Monday at the behest of the commission's chairman, Nicholas Stewart QC. Stewart was not available for comment yesterday to explain why he had gone to such unusual lengths to disclose the details of a hearing that made serious criticisms of senior figures at United, including the assistant manager Mike Phelan.

The FA recognises that it has made a mistake in the timing of the release of the hearing details – Evra only announced he would not be appealing on Tuesday. It remains to be seen whether Triesman can patch up relations with Gill at a critical time for the governing body. Many of the FA hierarchy are in Japan for a crucial meeting today of Fifa executive committee members who will be central to the success of the 2018 World Cup bid. United's cooperation cannot be taken for granted.

"To go through what they [the FA] have said would take up too much time," Ferguson said. "As I have said before, we are disappointed. I don't think what the FA have done is very clever." It will not have escaped Ferguson's attention that his old friend David Pleat, the former Luton and Tottenham manager, was on the disciplinary commission along with the FA councillors Roy Carter and Barry Bright.

The likes of Carter and Bridge may not be sitting on commissions for much longer as professional clubs begin a push today to purge amateur representatives from those disciplinary bodies.The clubs believe that the sentences handed out to in cases such as Evra are too harsh and demonstrate a lack of understanding of the modern game.

Wayne Rooney, despite coming on with just 18 minutes to play in Yokohama, scored twice in United's win that puts them in the final against Liga de Quito tomorrow. "Wayne can be a No 9," Ferguson said, speaking about his belief Rooney can play as a classic centre-forward. "We are trying to develop him that way. We have tried to play him there for most of the season.

"His movement, strength and penetration are very good. For the third goal that really killed them he made two runs, across and back and across and behind. They were really clever. It marks out the quality he can give you in that position and he will improve from there."

News
US comedian Bill Mahr
people
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Sport
football
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
News
Friends for life … some professionals think loneliness is more worrying than obesity
scienceSocial contact is good for our sense of wellbeing - but it's a myth that loneliness kills, say researchers
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Life and Style
Models – and musicians – on the catwalk in Dior Homme for the men’s 2015/16 fashion show in Paris
fashionAt this season's Paris shows, various labels played with the city boys' favourite
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us