Manchester United have only dropped points in five Premier League matches this season. As we head into February, that’s a remarkable statistic; one which is a glowing testifimony to Sir Alex Ferguson’s supreme abilities as a manager of both man and squad.
Less edifying, but no less in keeping with Fergie, is his predictable knee-jerk reaction to each setback as he deflects criticism, belittles the opposition and attempts to further solidify United’s famed ‘fortress mentality’.
In the five games United have failed to win, only at Norwich did SAF refuse to blame bad luck or dodgy officiating for the result. At the time, his change of tack took many by surprise, before it was then dismissed as ‘typical mind games’.
Sun 20 Jan: Tottenham 1-1 Man Utd
“It was a clear penalty-kick,” Fergie said, referring to a challenge by Steven Caulker on Wayne Rooney when United were 1 up midway through the second half, but found themselves spending more and more time repelling Spurs attacks.
“But there was no way the linesman was going to give that – he gave them everything. He had a really poor game.”
Sun 23 Dec: Swansea 1-1 Man Utd
“Robin van Persie is lucky to be alive,” said Ferguson about an incident where Ashley Williams lashed the ball at RvP as he lay on the ground.
“It was a disgraceful act from their player today and he should be banned by the FA. Robin could have had a broken neck.
“It was one of the most dangerous things I’ve seen on a football pitch in many, many years. It was absolutely deliberate, and right in front of the referee.”
Sat 17 Nov: Norwich 1-0 Man Utd
Headlines were made after United stumbled at Carrow Road due to Ferguson praising the opposition, saying:
“They deserved it because they worked so hard for it. We had a lot of possession and one or two half-chances without having any great chances. They defended really well and their goalkeeper made two or three really good saves at vital moments. It just wasn’t our night.”
If I were really unkind, I could suggest that his comments were a very clever way of nullifying criticism of his own team; suggesting they were the helpless victims of circumstance and the loss was a freak result. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.
Sat 29 Sep: Man Utd 2-3 Tottenham
“They gave us four minutes [injury time], that’s an insult to the game. It denies you a proper chance to win a football match.”
“There were six substitutions, the trainer came on, so that’s four minutes right away and the goalkeeper must have wasted about two or three minutes and they took their time at every goal kick.
“That’s obvious to everyone today and it’s a flaw in the game that the referee is responsible for time keeping. It’s ridiculous that it’s 2012 and the referee still has control of that.”
Mon 20 Aug: Everton 1-0 Man Utd
Ferguson’s poor sportsmanship was in evidence in his scathing comments on Everton’s tactics in targeting the imposing Marouane Fellaini, who rode roughshod over United for the second time in under six months.
“He is a handful: he is a big, tall, gangly lad and they just lumped the ball forward to him, that’s all they did. They worked from that base all the time and they got a goal from him, so it’s justified.”