Date: 6th October 2009 at 10:34am
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Wow. Fergie conjured one hell of a storm after his comments on Wiley on Saturday. The United boss declared that the referee hadn’t been fit enough for the game and implied that English refs compare unfavourably to their foreign counterparts in terms of fitness.

Now you may call this childish, petty or unjust (Jeff Winter apparently believes Fergie is a bully) but Sir Alex cares only about one thing: that it worked. Newspaper columns are full about Fergie and his bullying, his attacks on referees, his rant at fourth official Mike Dean – but not a word about how dreadfully poor we were.

Those who are fed up with the hype about Fergie’s alleged ‘mind games’ might argue that it wasn’t any concerted comment, just the red cloud that descended on his mind after seeing our below-par performance made him say that. I don’t want to side with either party but he must be pretty pleased.

After all, whenever United play badly, you can expect millions of articles saying our players are overrated, that we have plenty of problems, that the squad is weak and why haven’t we bought Lionel Messi and Kaka (in February 2008, Guardian’s Paul Doyle memorably predicted that ‘United won’t win a single trophy’ after a somewhat laboured display against Lyon…). Not this time: the papers do not salivate on how poor Rooney was, do not tell us that Nani was dreadful – what they do tell is that our manager unjustly attacked a referee.

Who, by the way, had a real stinker as I have written but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the boss must be pretty pleased that his players are not lambasted in the press after such a poor performance.