'You are protecting the possibility of success': Alex Ferguson talks up the importance of secrecy after Balotelli and Mancini training ground row

Mario Balotelli and Roberto Mancini were pictured grappling with one another

Sir Alex Ferguson says it would never be possible to gain access to Manchester United's training sessions in the way that has caused Manchester City so much strife.

City have hit the headlines after pictures emerged yesterday of a training ground fracas between Roberto Mancini and Mario Balotelli.

Although Mancini insists the row between the two Italians was not as bad as the images appeared, it has nevertheless painted City in a negative light.

City's problem is that their training ground has a public pathway running alongside, offering photographers easy access.

Though United are based less than a mile away, the situation there could not be more different, as what public access there is affords no clear view of the training ground itself.

Ferguson views the security measures as absolutely essential.

"You are protecting the possibility of success," Ferguson said.

"Do ICI send an email to another bio chemicals company telling them their new discoveries in drugs? Does any major company tell its opponents what they are doing? I am sure they don't.

"Unfortunately football has a media profile which means cameramen want to be at training sessions. I think that is ridiculous but it makes it very difficult for a coach to do their work because you don't know where the information can go.

"I think it stopped at Real Madrid under Jose Mourinho, but there are some places where the press are in every day. This is what they expect.

"I know it happens in Italy. I don't know how you can do your tactical work.

"Fortunately, at our place, we can guard against it to a decent degree," Ferguson added, before joking: "Sometimes we get a photographer wandering over in the woods - but we can put wolves in there!"

Keeping training ground information within the confines of Carrington is a serious business for Ferguson, and in the past journalists have been banned from attending press conferences for publishing information Ferguson felt should have remained secret.

This season United have taken the step of remaining in England to train before flying to away Champions League ties to avoid taking training on opponents' grounds, which is supposed to be open for just 15 minutes but often can be seen in its entirety.

"No matter which stadium you go to, you can't do anything," Ferguson continued. "Just general possession and boxes.

"Training at our own ground we can do something. We can pick a team for a start, work on tactical formations and set-pieces.

"You can't do that when you are training at someone else's ground."

PA

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