Sir Alex tells Manchester United fans to get behind team
Sir Alex Ferguson has pleaded with the Manchester United faithful to give him another thrill of a lifetime at Old Trafford tonight.
On Saturday, Ferguson offered his first public opinions on the row that has erupted over the Glazer family ownership of the Red Devils.
Having previously declared the successful £504million bond issue a good thing and then been silenced on the issue due to Stock Market regulations, Ferguson decided ahead of the four-goal defeat of Hull it was time to call for unity.
Given the sustained anti-Glazer chanting and a number of fans following the idea of wearing green and gold, the colours of Newton Heath, the club United eventually became, Ferguson's words fell on deaf ears.
But, as he looked ahead to tomorrow's powderkeg Carling Cup semi-final second leg with Manchester City at Old Trafford, Ferguson expanded on his theme.
"There is nothing wrong with supporters complaining," he said.
"If the players play badly, they are quite right to voice their disapproval. If they don't like the performance, they are quite right. If they don't like this or that, it is their right.
"It is their club.
"But we don't want the divisive part. We want the supporters behind the players all the time because we are coming to the stage of the season where everything is down to what we do as a team.
"It should always be about the team. That is the most important thing and we should never lose sight of it."
Not that Ferguson has any fears about the reaction tomorrow.
With 9,000 City fans making the short journey across town eager to acclaim their resurgent club's first Wembley cup final since 1981, a raucous atmosphere is guaranteed.
Pleas have already gone out from Greater Manchester Police and the Football Association for calm.
But Ferguson knows no such assurances were needed when Barcelona came two years ago for a European Cup semi-final that was won with a solitary Paul Scholes goal.
"Everyone should be buckling down to make sure we are successful," said Ferguson.
"That includes the players, the staff and, in particular, the supporters.
"As we have experienced at Old Trafford so many times over the years, in big game situations, when they are in full voice, it is an incredible experience.
"Some of the European nights I have experienced here have been the most thrilling of my life.
"You can't beat them. You all go away at the end of the night totally satisfied that you are at the right place at the right time in your lives."
There is a simmering edge, though. The spat between Carlos Tevez and Gary Neville ignited it and the comments of City chief executive Garry Cook hardly helped matters either.
Ferguson does not want to be involved, dismissing the latest Cook gaffe - it is a question of when, not if City reach Wembley - with a degree of sympathy.
"I haven't read the transcript of it," he said.
"Sometimes you get carried away and sometimes you get misquoted.
"But there is no such thing as off the record either. You have to be guarded in everything you say."
But Ferguson will not spend the last few moments before kick-off reminding his players of their responsibilities.
There have been instances when they have let him down. But those occasions were rare.
"I don't pay any attention to all that," he said.
"The player behaviour has always been perfect. We have great players who play to the right rules of the game.
"We have never had any issues in big games. Look at the record. I am not worried about it."