Friday 13 December 2019

Manchester City apologise to United for Carlos Tevez ‘RIP Fergie’ sign

A picture grab shows Carlos Tevez adding an unsavoury chapter to the simmering rivalry between Manchester City and Manchester United by holding a banner proclaiming 'RIP Fergie' during his club's Premier League title trophy parade through the city last night
A picture grab shows Carlos Tevez adding an unsavoury chapter to the simmering rivalry between Manchester City and Manchester United by holding a banner proclaiming 'RIP Fergie' during his club's Premier League title trophy parade through the city last night reporters and Mark Ogden

MANCHESTER City apologised to Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson after Carlos Tevez held up a banner ridiculing his former manager during the title celebrations.

Tevez also expressed his regret after displaying the sign, which read 'RIP Fergie', during City's celebratory open-top bus parade through Manchester city centre last night.

The 28-year-old is thought to have been passed or thrown the placard by a fan as the squad travelled the streets with the Barclays Premier League trophy.

A City spokeswoman said: "The creation of the tasteless material is in itself reprehensible and in accepting and brandishing it, Carlos has made a significant error of judgement.

"The club wishes to express its sincerest apologies to Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United Football Club for any offence or distress caused."

The sign is thought to have been a reference to a remark by Ferguson three years ago when asked if United would ever be underdogs against City. "Not in my lifetime," the Scot said.

Tevez, who spent two years at Old Trafford before leaving for City in 2009, said: "I got carried away in the excitement of the moment and I certainly didn't mean any disrespect to Sir Alex Ferguson, who I admire as a man and a manager

The incident added an unsavoury chapter to the simmering rivalry between Manchester City and Manchester United.

United did not respond when asked about the banner last night, but speaking at the club's Player of the Year Dinner at Old Trafford, Ferguson hit out at City by insisting United would not attempt to compete with the 'stupid' money being paid out by their Abu Dhabu-owned neighbours. "We know that City are going to spend fortunes, pay stupid money, pay silly salaries and all that." Ferguson said. "We know that happens.

"We can't do anything about that. We concentrate on what we can do -- try to bring players in for the right reasons. If you are good at something, don't mend it."

The Tevez incident will do little to improve relations between the Mancunian rivals, however, in the wake of City's injury-time title triumph on Sunday.

Tevez's controversial defection from United to City in July 2009, followed by City's decision to impose his image on a 'Welcome to Manchester' poster in the city centre, enraged Ferguson and led the Scot to dismiss United's neighbours as a 'small club with a small mentality.'

The former West Ham striker has been the central figure in the war of words between the two clubs and, with City manager Roberto Mancini restoring Tevez to his team recently after he had gone AWOL in Argentina for three months after being fined two weeks wages for refusing to warm up at Bayern Munich in September, Ferguson claimed it was 'desperation' on City's part to bring him back.

City's title success has placed pressure on United to respond, however, and increased the focus on the club's American owners, the Glazer family, to invest in the team.

Meanwhile, Ferguson has succeeded in his efforts to persuade Paul Scholes to abandon his retirement plans and play for another year.

Scholes (37) had been questioning the merits of continuing after emerging from retirement in January, but Ferguson admitted that he has won the battle to keep the midfielder in his squad. "He (Scholes) knew he had made a mistake," Ferguson said. "He now realises if he plays 25 or 30 games next season, they will be of real quality. But I think it will be Paul's last season. We know him very well. We have had him since he was a kid. We know how to use him."

With Scholes signed to a new one-year deal, Ferguson will now turn his attention to adding three new players to his squad this summer.

The failure to win silverware this season has led to some members of the squad confiding to friends that the team needs new blood, with one senior player claiming that 'at least three new signings' are required in order to overhaul City and be competitive again in Europe. Ferguson's team suffered early exits from both the Champions League and Europa League this season.

But with Dimitar Berbatov set to leave and the club open to offers for Ji-Sung Park, Anderson and Federico Macheda, Ferguson is expected to be handed funds.

That would allow him to compete for Borussia Dortmund pair Shinji Kagawa and Roberto Lewandowski, plus left-back cover for Patrice Evra due to Fabio's likely loan to Benfica. Hoffenheim midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, currently on loan at Swansea, has also been monitored.

United's top target, Lille midfielder Eden Hazard, is expected to seal a £35m transfer to City.

Ferguson's decision to attend the German Cup final between Dortmund and Bayern Munich with assistant Mike Phelan on Saturday highlighted United's interest in Kagawa, who has told the German champions of his desire to leave for England this summer.

United have scouted Polish forward Lewandowski throughout this season, but it is understood that reports have been mixed and that Ferguson is wary of recruiting strikers from the Bundesliga amid concerns over the strength of the league beyond the leading clubs.

Meanwhile, there remain question marks over the well-being of Darren Fletcher following his extended break due to ulcerative colitis, and Paul Pogba is likely to depart for Juventus to add to United's midfield problems.

The experience of failing to defend their title could do United good, Rio Ferdinand said. "We've got to make sure we learn from this experience, deal with it, push on and make sure this never happens again," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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