Ferguson brands the Dutch as 'arrogant'

Sir Alex Ferguson has long prepared his teams for their most inspired performances by saying the world is against them. Yesterday, he singled out a single nation, the Netherlands, for special treatment, branding the Dutch as "arrogant".

Sir Alex Ferguson has long prepared his teams for their most inspired performances by saying the world is against them. Yesterday, he singled out a single nation, the Netherlands, for special treatment, branding the Dutch as "arrogant".

The Manchester United manager had been riled by suggestions that by omitting four of his leading players - David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham - from the starting line-up in the Philips Stadion, he had shown an arrogant disregard for the Dutch champions, who won the game comfortably.

"It's strange for a country like Holland to call us arrogant. You are not short of it yourself," retorted Ferguson when a Dutch television journalist accused him of showing a cavalier attitude before United's heaviest European defeat in six years.

"I think the Dutch have an arrogance in their football, that's well documented by many people, although sometimes it has done you good."

It has been reported that Ferguson has been offered a lucrative post as a football ambassador for Nike when he retires, although international diplomacy has sometimes not been the great man's forte.

When asked by foreign journalists whether he thought Ronaldo would play in United's European Cup quarter-final with Internazionale in March last year, Ferguson, who jokingly often describes the Scots as "the master race", quipped: "If an Italian gave me a bowl of pasta, I would have look under the sauce before I was sure it was."

Significantly, that game was won with an assured performance and, when it is the world versus Manchester United, the world is usually on a hiding to nothing.

His opposite number, Erik Gerets, was rather more diplomatic: "I am not the kind of person to criticise a coach whose performances have shown him to be one of the best in the world," he said when told ofFerguson's comments.

"The criticism [of United] also came from Belgium where Anderlecht were disappointed because we had taken three points from what they saw as a weakened team."

Ferguson said those who criticised him "did not understand the mechanics of our League when you have big games Wednesday, Saturday, Wednesday," adding: "PSV and Kiev had no matches before they played us and so their preparations were much better while we had to go to Arsenal on the Sunday and the winning of that game could decide the League. We had two home games left and I trust my players to win them."

The United players generally, and Beckham in particular, were angered by some of PSV's time-wasting tactics last month, and the stiff challenges that scarred the first 20 minutes, and Ferguson's repetition of the charges will not have improved relations strained by the collapse of the Ruud van Nistelrooy deal.

"We were a bit disappointed by some of the diving that was going on all over the place," said Ferguson, before adding ominously: "One thing it has done is ensure the players will be up for this match. I can sense they are ready for it."

Save for Jaap Stam, who presumably is not included in his manager's list of arrogant Dutchmen, United will be at full strength for what Ferguson said was a "massive game", if not quite on the scale of aquarter-final.

Andy Cole, whose last taste of European football at Old Trafford was to hammer a hat-trick past Anderlecht on the way to breaking Denis Law's United's goal record in these games, will partner Teddy Sheringham with Giggs and Beckham restored to the midfield. Gerets will field almost the same side that took a still-formidable United side apart in the Philips Stadion, with Adil Ramzi replacing the injured Wilfred Bouma.

Few sides who come to play for a draw at Old Trafford achieve their aim but Gerets, taking encouragement from watching a video of Chelsea's display, said: "We are up for this. If you had seen our last game [a dire goalless draw with Nijmegen], you would think I was crazy. But our players are coming here believing they can draw at least and, if United are not 100 per cent, they can win the game."

History is against them. Only once have United lost a group match at home in the Champions' League, the 1-0 defeat by Fenerbahce in 1996 that ended their proud record of never having been beaten in European football at Old Trafford. Should there be an unlikely repetition, United would need to win both their remaining games handsomely if they were to avoid an ignominious fate in the Uefa Cup.

* Sir Alex Ferguson is bringing the England Under-21 winger Luke Chadwick back from Royal Antwerp, where he has been on loan for over a year, in case David Beckham's knee problem worsens. His scouts have also been looking atNewcastle United's Peruvian winger Nolberto Solano.

Manchester United (4-4-2, probable): Barthez; Irwin, G Neville, Johnsen, Silvestre; Beckham, Keane, Scholes, Giggs; Sheringham, Cole.

PSV Eindhoven (4-1-3-2, probable): Waterreus; Heintze, Hofland, Nikiforov, Van der Weerden; Vogel; Ramzi, Van Bommel, Van der Doelen; Kezman, Bruggink.

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test