United manager says he will not be fined over his BBC boycott

Sir Alex Ferguson yesterday took up a defiant stance in his determination to refuse interviews with the BBC, declaring that he would not face a fine from the Premier League on the issue.

"I don't think that's the case," Ferguson said, when questioned for the first time on the issue, ahead of the Premier League board meeting at which the league will consider imposing fines for the manager's resolute refusal to speak to the corporation.

Manchester United do not believe Ferguson can be fined personally as the league can only impose financial penalties on member clubs, rather than individuals, and since they are ready to stand by the manager and pay out whatever financial penalties may come their way, Ferguson was right. Personally, he will not be fined. He has no intention of meeting the league's requests.

Ferguson also maintained a resolute outlook in the face of Chelsea's race to a position four points clear of his own side. The United manager, who revealed that his club had been approached by Joe Cole's agent this summer but that "it was maybe just complicated to get involved in that," said Carlo Ancelotti's side had benefited from a "very easy, early start to the season." Chelsea had, nonetheless, "had a good start," he added. "You can only do what you can do with the games you've got. You've got to address them. Every game in the Premier League has its own complications and difficulties and addressing them the right way is how you get the results. Our form, I think, has been very good."

Ferguson clarified a position he left unclear on Tuesday by confirming that Nemanja Vidic would replace Gary Neville as first-team captain even when Rio Ferdinand was fit.

After the internecine strife of the Rafael Benitez years, the arrival of Roy Hodgson's Liverpool delivered some unusual bonhomie to yesterday's pre-match press conference. The two men have always got on, Ferguson having first met Sunday's adversary in Malmo in 1987, when he arrived to watch the side Hodgson was then managing play Ajax in a European Cup tie. "I think on one of these trips to Malmo they aborted the game after one minute," Ferguson reflected. "It was a European tie against Ajax and he was at the game and we went to dinner after it."

There was also some ribaldry between the two when Hodgson took the Liverpool job this summer. "I spoke to him," Hodgson revealed. "In a jocular way I asked whether now that I've taken the Liverpool job that we don't speak to each other. He didn't put the phone down. He made some cutting remark but I can't remember what it was."

Hodgson said tomorrow's game compares with the Derby d'Italia, Internazionale v Juventus, which he experienced during his brief spell as Inter manager in 1999. "It was the real killer one," Hodgson reflected. "I didn't like losing, which I did quite often. We did poorly and I would like to change that, it'd be nice. Thanks for reminding me!"

Ferguson has received positive news about Owen Hargreaves, whose American surgeon Dr Richard Steadman disclosed yesterday was "close to playing fitness" following prolonged treatment in Colorado. Dr Steadman added that Hargreaves' injury was a complex and serious one, but he is pleased with the midfielder's response to treatment, and determination to strengthen himself. "The problem was with the tendon attached to the patella on each knee, which is difficult to resolve," he said. "After the surgery, the key was rest and working hard on recovery. Owen has spent a lot of time with us here and he has never given up."

Ferguson also suggested that Antonio Valencia might be back as soon as February following his surgery for an ankle break on Tuesday night.

For his part, Hodgson said he was unsure whether Liverpool fans attempting to provoke Wayne Rooney would work against his side. "They are things that football managers and coaches can do nothing about," he said. "I understand the concern but I can only work on things and deal with things which are within my grasp, and fans winding opponents up and that working against you is out of my control so I just have to wait and see what happens."

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

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power