Luis Suarez cost Kenny Dalglish his job, claims Alex Ferguson
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 Manchester 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 Patrice Evra.
That came during a Premier League fixture at Anfield last October, and Ferguson said: "If Suarez keeps on making headlines out of it, it’s not going to go away."
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.
That came despite going on to be described as having given "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 last December and the Scot 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.
And with Liverpool’s American owners sacking Dalglish in May before replacing him with Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers, Ferguson expressed his belief that the Suarez saga proved to be Dalglish’s downfall.
“I wasn’t surprised at Kenny leaving,” Ferguson said. “I think that the Suarez incident, [Liverpool owner] John Henry has obviously looked at that and felt it wasn’t handled in the right way.
“It certainly wasn’t a nice thing to happen, you know. I’m not sure, but I think that it [Suarez affair] must have been part of it. It must have been part of it.”
Suarez’s comments about his eight-match ban earlier this week during an interview to Uruguayan television show RR.Gol saw the 25 year-old claim that "United’s political power is strong and you must respect that and shut your mouth".
The former Ajax forward, who could face Evra on international duty 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,” Ferguson said. “The handshake was disappointing. He came out and said Evra’s hand was low.
“There is no doubt Evra put his hand towards him, but I think Evra expected him not to shake hands. Evra actually said that to the lads.
“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 it [Suarez ban] was anything to do with Manchester United. I think that it was to do with Patrice Evra. It 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 the United defender 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 Ferdinand led to the United defender being omitted from England’s Euro 2012 squad.
“I don’t know about that,” Ferguson said. “Maybe Roy [Hodgson] didn’t fancy him [Ferdinand], it’s a possibility. I don’t think it [England] is on Rio’s agenda. He’s 33 now and he wants to ensure he’s fit for us.
“But 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.
“Obviously I don’t know what he [Terry] said, there’s a lot of speculation about what he said and why he said it, but I don’t think it [racism in football] is a problem.”
Despite the furore surrounding Ferdinand as a result of the tweets relating to Cole, however, Ferguson admits he cannot stop his players using the social networking site.
Ferguson said: “I don’t understand it [Twitter] to be honest and don’t know why they do it.
“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 ok. I don’t think we can stop him [from tweeting].”
Ferguson 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.
A further addition in midfield, following the summer signings of Shinji Kagawa and Nick Powell, is likely, but Ferguson insists that United are fully capable of reclaiming the title from Manchester City this season.
“I’ve lost my temper and I’m angry [about losing the league],” Ferguson said. “But 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, OK, 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.”
Ferguson has also dismissed claims by Wigan chairman Dave Whelan that a ‘health scare’ at the end of May could lead to him retiring next summer.
The United manager, who went to hospital after suffering a nosebleed in Glasgow two months ago, insists the incident was of little concern.
“I just took too many flights that week.” Ferguson said. “I had seven of them in a week. I think it was a bit silly to be flying as much as I did.
“It’s not as if it was anything to do with my heart, obviously. When the club doctor explained what he thought it seemed reasonable to me.
“He said ’look, you’ve just done too much flying’, it was things like cabin pressure that play a part. But we are all vulnerable to age, aren’t we? There’s no question about that.
“It doesn’t come without penalties. Maybe that was a way of telling me to slow down a bit in terms of travelling.”