Sir Alex Ferguson has declared that he would “love” to boycott a Premier League game in protest at the fixture scheduling he claims is denying his team a chance to prosper in Europe.
The Manchester United manager, who was fined £12,000 today by the Football Association for implying a referee’s assistant was motivated by bias in their 1-1 draw at Tottenham last month, said that “it will be different teams” he fields against Everton tomorrow and then against Real Madrid in United’s Champions League tie at the Bernabeu on Wednesday. Asked if that could mean 10 or 11 changes, he replied: “Yes, yes.”
There are certainly compensations where televised Premier League football is concerned. TV money has driven the game’s wealth and both Everton and United will get a £500,000 broadcast fee for tomorrow’s fixture but the United manager complained bitterly that continental countries, including France with their Friday night scheduling, help their clubs to flourish in European competition more.
“Possibly you get more [TV] money [in the Premier League than on the continent]. I don’t know,” Ferguson said. “I’ve got no idea about that part. Teams in other countries do make sacrifices for their top teams in Europe.” When it was put to him that it was in the interests of Sky Sports for United to progress past Jose Mourinho’s team and deep into the tournament, he replied: “Maybe we’ll not get there! Maybe they’ll suffer for that. [But] you can’t reject the TV game. What can you do? Not turn up? I’d love to do that. I’ve complained about that. You’ve heard my complaints. Do you think they listen?”
The other subject of the manager’s ire yesterday was England Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce, who disclosed in his midweek injury bulletin that defender Phil Jones was suffering from shingles.
Curiously, Ferguson said Jones “should be okay” for this weekend, despite the debilitating nature of that condition. Ferguson accused Pearce of a breach of confidentiality but seems to feel that team doctor Steve McNally erred by communicating Jones’ condition to the FA.
“It’s something we have to address,” said Ferguson. “You hope these things don’t happen but it’s difficult. You’re dealing with a big unit [in regards to] the FA in terms of how news can leak out and it’s spread out too many places. In this case it was the confidence of our doctor and their doctor and it shouldn’t have gone any further.”