Belfast Telegraph

Ferguson was right - if Newcastle were a big club, Alan Pardew would not be their manager

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

With Jim Gracey

I witnessed more heated exchanges between bargain-hunting women at the Next sale on Boxing Day morning. Such a hullaballoo over Sir Alex Ferguson's remonstration with ref Mike Dean and his officials at Old Trafford the same afternoon.

Fergie called it totally right in the hysterical aftermath of media condemnation.

If it hadn't been him and Man United, there'd have been barely a word about the confrontation. Instead, as he pointed out, the world and his brother felt the need to put their tuppence worth in, bar Barack Obama, who was busy.

Significantly the one person entitled to take umbrage, Dean, did not feel the incident worthy of note in his report to the FA. It might have made for good TV, a 71-year-old still passionate enough about the game to get steamed up over a decision gone against him.

But Ferguson barely raised his voice, nor did he use foul and abusive language as he animatedly put his point across, so end of story. Traffic wardens get a harder time.

And what of Fergie's traducing of Newcastle as a ‘wee club from the north east' in a heat of the moment response to the criticism offered by their manager, Alan Pot Kettle Pardew, with previous for actually laying hands on a match official?

Amid the predictable indignation, there lies an uncomfortable truth.

Newcastle may enjoy considerable stature in terms of their history, support and stadium, bigger than some of their more successful rivals.

But they haven't won a major trophy since 1969. And the greatest argument in support of Ferguson's assertion is the presence of Pardew himself.

If Newcastle really were a big club, Alan Pardew would not be their manager.

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