Belfast Telegraph

Sir Alex Ferguson realises that sometimes it’s a lot better to say nothing at all

By Ian Herbert

Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to blank the media and head straight back to Manchester after losing 3-1 to Liverpool on Sunday hasn’t done anything to boost his popularity.

Jumping onto the team coach instead of offering an opinion or even brief sound bite on his team’s hugely disappointing performance can, however, be put down as a smart move by the Scot.

His snubbing of a television interview with Sky Sports — he doesn’t speak to the BBC anyway — and the written press appears to have been based, at least in part, on a realisation that he would be asked to comment on a refereeing decision once again, with Portuguese winger Nani departing from Anfield with a sizeable gash on his right shin after a challenge from Jamie Carragher.

With an independent regulatory commission improper conduct case looming in the next few weeks Ferguson is reluctant to antagonise his position, having denied the charge.

The Football Association confirmed yesterday that Carragher will not face any retrospective action because referee Phil Dowd has concluded that he stands by his original decision to dispense only a yellow card for the challenge — just as Mark Clattenburg did after Wayne Rooney's elbow on Wigan's James McCarthy a week earlier.

Instead, Ferguson may seek to use what United perceive as another injustice in support of his own case. His decision not to appear before the press has certainly allowed the events of the afternoon to speak for themselves.

There was astonishment yesterday in Nani's native Portugal that Carragher should have been allowed to escape with a yellow card for the challenge. An image of the base of Nani's torn right shin featured prominently across the Iberian Peninsula, with the Spanish sports paper Marca featuring it as prominently as the Portuguese papers.

Nani will miss Manchester United's FA Cup quarter final with Arsenal on Saturday, with his club nursing a sense of incredulity about the fact that Carragher avoided a red card for the challenge.

The loss of Nani for Arsenal's visit is a bad blow for a United manager for whom Antonio Valencia is still several weeks off a return and Ryan Giggs may be the only fit natural wide player. Ji-Sung Park may come back into contention, having been put through a late fitness test 24 hours before the Liverpool game yet judged unfit to return after his hamstring trouble.

Ferguson, whose improper conduct charge came for his comments about Martin Atkinson's refereeing of last week's Chelsea game and decision not to dismiss central defender David Luiz, may be surprised to learn that he has some support in Portugal for his view that Luiz, signed from Benfica for 25m euros, deserved to be dismissed in United's 2-1 defeat.

The Benfica coach Jorge Jesus telephoned Luiz after the game to say that his performance in the high profile fixture was not the way he had taught him to play the game.

Jesus believes that Luiz's anxiety to justify his hefty transfer fee is leading him to rush headlong into challenges rather than compose himself and slow down.

Belfast Telegraph


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