Saturday 25 March 2017

Ferguson fumes at 'unfair focus' on United discipline

Mark Ogden, in Chicago

Alex Ferguson has reiterated his ongoing disaffection with the English FA by accusing the governing body of an "unfair" focus on Manchester United's disciplinary issues and vowing to continue to "defend my club".

Following a season which saw Ferguson handed a five-match touchline ban for criticising referee Martin Atkinson and Wayne Rooney banned for two games for swearing into a television camera, the 69-year-old has echoed recent comments by United chief executive David Gill suggesting that the club are subjected to disciplinary double standards.

"I think sometimes there is an unfair focus on United on disciplinary issues," Ferguson said in Chicago, where United are on the latest leg of their American tour. "It will always be there and I think we know that. I don't really know whether it's about me or the club, that's a difficult one, but I think that (resentment) has got something to do with it.

"They have certainly always found a way to treat us differently. It has been happening for a while now and they always seem to find a way to do us when, with others, it's seemingly forgotten."

The FA has insisted that clubs such as United are made aware that greater profile brings with it greater responsibility, a stance which points towards heavier punishment for high-profile incidents. But Ferguson claims that United are too often the victim of the FA's readiness to be directed by media influence.

"Personally, I felt hard done by last season," he added. "I defend my club, but that's my job, yet part of the problem is that when I make comments, the media are onto the FA right away and there is no doubt about that. Then they feel forced to do something and they are afraid of what might happen if they don't."

Ferguson, who is continuing to monitor Wesley Sneijder's situation at Inter Milan, has also expressed doubt about whether Manchester City will find any club willing to pay their asking price for their unsettled captain Carlos Tevez.

"I think it's a certainty that Tevez will start the season at City because you look around and wonder who is going to buy him? I'm not sure Inter Milan would pay £45m, especially after he's said he wants to go back to Argentina to see his kids."

Meanwhile, Chelsea ramped up their summer recruitment drive yesterday when they agreed a fee with Barcelona for the signing of Oriol Romeu.

New manager Andre Villas-Boas decided his squad had been significantly weakened by the loss of the injured Michael Essien to warrant a reported £4.5m offer for the 19-year-old Romeu.

The defensive midfielder is currently on international duty with Spain at the Under-20 World Cup and has yet to undergo a medical or agree personal terms. He made his first-team debut for Barcelona at the end of last season, but Pep Guardiola deemed him surplus to requirements.

Romeu is set to become the second signing of the Villas-Boas era, with Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois having agreed to move from Genk.

Telegraph

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