Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson told to stop talking about England manager's job
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has been gagged by the Premier League after voicing his backing for Harry Redknapp to be the next England manager.
Ferguson believes Tottenham boss Redknapp has all the credentials required to replace Fabio Capello and, after stepping into the Scotland job following the death of Jock Stein in 1985, is perfectly placed to assess the difficulties anyone would have taking over immediately before a major tournament.
However, it appears the game's authorities are not comfortable with Ferguson expressing his opinions, however useful an insight they offer.
And, following last night's 3-2 Europa League defeat by Athletic Bilbao at Old Trafford, Ferguson said the Premier League had told him to stop.
"The Premier League has written to me asking me not to talk about the England manager's job," the Scot said. "I don't know why."
It shows the lengths the authorities are going to in their bid to restrict debate over an issue that many feel the Football Association are taking too long over anyway considering they are willing to wait until the last weeks of the season before confirming who will lead England into Euro 2012.
Ferguson's statement did not quite obscure another disappointing home European performance from United.
Last season's Champions League finalists have won just one of five European games at Old Trafford this term and have a combination of Wayne Rooney's late penalty and a succession of excellent saves from David de Gea to thank for the fact they will go to Spain for next week's second leg still with some home of progression.
"There's no doubt they were the better team," Ferguson said.
"It's an uphill fight for us. The question is can we win the match over there? I think we can."
United will need to show vast improvement, though, after being comprehensively outplayed.
After going in front against the run of play thanks to Rooney's first-half opener, the hosts were pegged back by the outstanding Fernando Llorente before the break.
Oscar de Marcos put the Basque outfit in front and they looked set to inflict the heaviest home European defeat on United when Rafael's woeful error allowed Iker Muniain to bag a third in the final minutes.
Rooney's penalty prevented that embarrassment.
"We probably were better in general play than United but it's a compliment to our opponents and expression of their quality that we could only beat them by a deficit of one goal," Athletic coach Marcelo Bielsa said.