Sunday 22 October 2017

Suarez race row cost Dalglish job - Fergie

Alex Ferguson and Kenny Dalglish
Alex Ferguson and Kenny Dalglish

Mark Ogden in Durban

MANCHESTER UNITED manager Alex Ferguson has claimed that Kenny Dalglish's handling of the Luis Suarez-Patrice Evra racism row last season ultimately cost the former Liverpool manager his job at Anfield.

Ferguson, currently in South Africa on the first leg of United's pre-season tour, delivered a stinging response to claims this week by Suarez that United's "political power" led to his eight-game suspension and £40,000 fine for racially abusing Evra during a Premier League fixture at Anfield last October.

"If Suarez keeps on making headlines out of it, it's not going to go away," said Ferguson.

Uruguayan forward Suarez, who was found by an Independent Regulatory Commission to have directed the word 'negro' towards Evra seven times during the 1-1 draw, was offered unstinting public backing by Dalglish throughout the long-running affair, despite going on to be described as giving "unreliable and inconsistent evidence" within the 115-page report into the investigation.

Dalglish earned criticism for wearing a T-shirt in support of Suarez prior to a game at Wigan in December, and subsequently issued an apology for "not conducting myself in a way befitting of a Liverpool manager" during a television interview in the wake of Suarez's refusal to shake Evra's hand prior to the league game at Old Trafford in February.

Controversy

And, with Liverpool's American owners sacking Dalglish in May, Ferguson expressed his belief that the Suarez saga proved to be the downfall of his fellow Scot.

"I wasn't surprised at Kenny leaving." Ferguson said. "(Liverpool owner) John Henry has obviously looked at the Suarez incident and felt it wasn't handled in the right way. It must have been part of it."

Suarez reignited the controversy, which saw him banned for eight matches, earlier this week during a TV interview in which the 25-year-old claimed: "United's political power is strong and you must respect that and shut your mouth."

The striker, who could face Evra when Uruguay play France next month, also claimed that the United captain's hand was "low" during the pre-match handshake at Old Trafford, when Suarez refused to shake the Frenchman's hand.

"Yes, I've seen he (Suarez) has gone back and talked about it," added Ferguson. "The handshake was disappointing. There is no doubt Evra put his hand towards him, but I think Patrice expected him not to shake hands. He just felt he wasn't going to shake his hand. He was sort of embarrassed to put his hand there.

"It's Suarez -- he's the one who should be making the effort to do something about it.

"I don't think that (Suarez ban) was anything to do with Manchester United. I think that was to do with Patrice Evra. He was the guy who explained the cultural differences. He was the guy who killed Suarez."

The recent acquittal of Chelsea captain John Terry on a charge of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand -- the brother of United centre-half Rio -- has led to further controversy, with Rio under the spotlight for tweets relating to Ashley Cole, a witness during the trial.

Ferguson insists that racism is not a growing issue in English football, however, and he does not believe that friction between Terry and Rio led to the United defender being omitted from England's Euro 2012 squad.

"I don't think there is cause to worry about racism in England. We have made great strides forward. I don't see any problem with the game in terms of race."

Despite the furore surrounding Ferdinand as a result of the tweets relating to Cole, Ferguson conceded that he cannot stop his players using the social networking site.

"I don't understand it (Twitter) to be honest and don't know why they do it," he said. "I can't understand why people can bother themselves with it.

"But as long as they don't talk about the team -- and he (Ferdinand) is well aware of that -- then it's okay. I don't think we can stop him (from tweeting)."

Ferguson, who admitted that talks are continuing with Danny Welbeck's representatives over a new contract before conceding that "it's difficult to say where we are with that at this moment in time", is understood not to be in the hunt to sign Arsenal's Robin van Persie.

The Scot insisted that United are fully capable of reclaiming the title from Manchester City. "I've lost my temper and I'm angry (about losing the league)," he added. "If you lose the league like that, it does not matter who wins it. It is hard to swallow.

"Still, once the season is over you have to say 'right, okay, we will just go again,' and that is the great quality we have at this club. We will be alright next season. People may say Manchester City are the team to beat, but I don't agree with that.

"We are the team to beat because of the way we react and the way we have bounced back from losing the league in the past. I think we will be strong this season." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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