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I know it’s a form of blasphemy to criticise Sir Alex Ferguson, but it seems to me he fell short of his usual level of football statesmanship when he attacked one of his own players on telly last night. Rio Ferdinand is 33 years old, a respected figure in the game and beyond. For all that he’s had a lapse or two, he is also England’s most distinguished black player of his generation. Through no fault of his own, he was thrust into a most unpleasant situation between his brother and an England colleague. If he now feels resentment that the incident was allowed by the FA to drag on for a year without resolution, that’s understandable, and he was surely entitled to demonstrate it. He chose to do so by not displaying his support for an FA funded organisation that he feels has been asleep at the wheel. Any reasonable man would understand that, surely. Unfortunately SAF is not a reasonable man.

Every professional is entitled to a degree of respect and understanding from his manager, but Rio’s had the opposite from his. When he declared on Friday that all his players would be wearing the ‘Kick it out’ shirts, Sir Alex must have known how he felt, and that he was ordering him to go against his principles. By announcing that he would be ‘dealt with’, after he stood up for them, he’s putting his own reputation and standing at risk. I saw Sir Alex play; usually it wasn’t pretty, and he’s taken few prisoners during his coaching career either. That hasn’t stopped him becoming the greatest club manager in British football history, but this incident, it’s different. He created a rod for his own back by his statement on Friday. Now he’s felt its weight, and his reaction is petulant, arrogant and wrong.

What’s he going to do next? Will he and Gary Neville insist that the entire Man U squad vote Labour at the next election?


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