What is bothering Alex Ferguson these days? Two things mostly – Manchester United being quite terrible on defense and clearing English football of diving, as long as they’re not on his team. Sergio Aguero for example, but not Nani, who has every right to dive to get a penalty for the red devils.
Most of the criticism after United’s 2-3 loss against Tottenham at Old Trafford, ending a streak of over 23 years, was directed at the midfield and defense, who looked miserable for an entire half trying to chase the much faster Spurs players, especially Rio Ferdinand who got embarrassed by Gareth Bale on the second goal.
While Ferguson tried to deflect all the heat after the match by talking about the referees and how well his team played in the second half (not enough), heading into United’s champions league match with Cluj in Romania he’s singing a different tune, willing to criticize the team’s defending.
You have to be concerned losing goals the way we did against Tottenham. We were well off the pace of the game and I don’t think we won a tackle in the first half. Based on our first half against Southampton, the first half at Liverpool and first half on Saturday, we have some work to do in that respect. I think it will be the last time it happens. Fortunately, you saw the real Manchester United in the second half against Spurs, and that 45 minutes was probably our best performance of the season. But after the first half on Saturday I had plenty of concerns.
But a thing Ferguson loves doing, even more than commenting on his own team, is talking about the ills of English football. He’s got all the answers, obviously. It began with ex-referee Graham Poll saying that Luis Suarez is being targeted by referees due to his reputation as a diver and the Evra incident, not winning penalties even when he’s actually fouled. The follow up came from Sergio Aguero, who said foreign players are treated differently by the referees in England.
Ferguson, who knows a thing or two about referees giving his team the right kind of boost here and there, thought Nani should have won a penalty against Spurs on Saturday. He’s probably right as well, but he also mentioned that Nani might have made a meal of it. Just like his own player, Ashley Young, a British player, made a meal of the slightest of touches last season. Or Robin van Persie against Liverpool 9 days ago. But his players don’t dive.
Nani is not the type to dive, I know that. It was a penalty kick on Saturday. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t. The linesman could have helped, but didn’t. But it’s not worth going into that subject, because down the years there have been plenty of players diving and, you have to say, particularly foreign players.
As long as they’re not on his own team, they’re divers.