Belfast Telegraph

Ferguson sides with Manchester City boss in Tevez dispute

By Glenn Moore

Sir Alex Ferguson resisted the urge to gloat, or to remind the world that two years ago he had decided Carlos Tevez was not worth the price, or the trouble.

That may have been in his mind, but he limited his comments yesterday to offering his support to his managerial counterpart, ‘the most important man’ at his local rivals.

“I think Roberto Mancini has come out showing his strength of character, his strength of management. That's important in today's management,” said Ferguson.

“We have all experienced our own difficulties in management. You cope with it as best you can. My own experience is strong management is important. There is nobody more important than the manager at a football club.”

Mancini, like Ferguson, was reluctant to share his views on Tevez yesterday.

Asked if this has been the toughest week of his managerial career, Mancini (pictured) said: “No, no, absolutely no. Why is it difficult? Some situations can happen in football, in your job. It's important that the past is finished.

“I don't have any complications. Only one complication that we had two days ago is that we lost against Bayern Munich, only this. We started very well we can do a fantastic season, I don't have this problem.

“It is normal that one player is not happy to leave the pitch in an important game or to stay on the bench, it's a normal situation for every manager.”

The Italian also dismissed suggestions that he had been embroiled in a similar incident as a player for Sampdoria in 1995.

Then, Mancini had walked off the field after not being given a penalty, was ordered back on by coach Sven-Goran Eriksson and was promptly sent off a couple of minutes later. He ended up being banned for six weeks.

“I was sent off,” said Mancini. “When I went to Sven I said ‘change me, if not the referee will send me off’. He said ‘no, stay on’. After five minutes I did a foul and the referee showed the red card.”

Mancini's task now is to make sure the rest of Manchester City's star-studded squad are not distracted and continued their unbeaten Premier League record at Blackburn today.

Meanwhile, United fans yesterday extracted revenge for their City rivals' taunts over Tevez's move two years ago with a giant digital billboard image poking fun at the Argentina striker's latest saga.

The image being shown in Manchester city centre says ‘Welcome to Carlos, Manchester' — mocking the giant blue poster erected by City when Tevez moved from United in 2009 showing a picture of the Argentina striker over the words ‘Welcome to Manchester’.

The latest Tevez taunt was the work of the Manchester United Supporters' Trust who described it as “a warm-hearted message from some old friends”.

Though not remotely as dramatic United boss Ferguson has his own problems at the moment, notably a defence that conceded three goals at home to Basle in midweek and has only kept a trio of clean sheets in 11 matches this season.

“I think people will say our performance on Tuesday was careless and we underestimated our opponents,” he said.

“I think there is an element of truth about that. I certainly wasn't happy. Even in the first half I could smell we were too lax, we could have lost three goals in the first half. We could have scored three goals but that is the way we are playing at the moment — with that cavalier attitude.

“Maybe people enjoy it, but it certainly doesn't win leagues. We have to be better defensively.

“It's [getting] a balance of defence and attack, that's why you call it a team. We're too cavalier at the moment.

“On the second goal, for instance, we only had one defender in the penalty box.”

The champions, who lead the Premier League on goal difference from Manchester City, are at home to Norwich City today, which would seem a straightforward three points.

In the last five seasons United have won 14 of their 15 home matches against newly-promoted teams, scoring 43 goals to ten. However, the one draw was this month last season, against West Bromwich Albion, when, as now, United's defence was still to settle.

Norwich won their last match on the road, at Bolton, and pushed Chelsea hard in their previous away game.

Ferguson is keen to ensure his team do not ‘underestimate’ another opponent.

He said, “Norwich have had a terrific start.

“There there seems to be a great sense of purpose about the place.”

Canaries' manager Paul Lambert was part of the Borussia Dortmund team that knocked Ferguson's United out of the Champions League in 1997, going on to win the tournament.

Ferguson recalled: “His career in management has taken off quite well and Norwich has been a terrific move for him.”

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