Ferguson’s comments upset UEFA

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> It's not often a manager gets into disciplinary trouble hours before the game kicks off. But this is Alex Ferguson. The most successful manager in English socce

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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It's not often a manager gets into disciplinary trouble hours before the game kicks off. But this is Alex Ferguson. The most successful manager in English soccer is also top of the league when it comes to using mind games to try to rattle the opposition. Now he's in trouble for going too far. Ferguson's Manchester United faced Real Madrid on Tuesday in European soccer's biggest game so far this season - a quarterfinal of the Champions Cup. Earlier in the day, the 61-year-old Scot was charged with bringing the game into disrepute by UEFA for alleging the draw had been fixed to make it as difficult as possible for his team to reach the May 28 final at Old Trafford. Rigged draw? In English newspapers Sunday, Ferguson suggested the draw was rigged to make sure the three Italian and three Spanish clubs avoided each other until the semifinals. "It was a nice draw, wasn't it," Ferguson was quoted saying. "I think they picked it themselves. The Spanish sides didn't get drawn against each other, and neither did the Italians. How do you think that worked out? They don't want us in the final, that's for sure." He apologized on Tuesday. "I have been assured by UEFA that the draw was fair," he said. "I take their word for it, so I was wrong to say what I did." But it was too late. UEFA announced Wednesday that Ferguson had been charged and his case would be dealt with May 1. Controversial remarks Ferguson made other controversial comments about UEFA and Real Madrid. He demanded that soccer's European body select a "strong" referee who would not be intimidated by Madrid's "dirty tricks." He suggested that Madrid's Roberto Carlos, who was sent off in Brazil's friendly against Portugal last week for barging into the referee, shouldn't be allowed to play. In his 16 years at the helm at Old Trafford, Ferguson has led the Reds to seven league titles in nine seasons, the Champions Cup in 1999, Cup Winners Cup in '91, the World Club Cup in '99, European Super Cup in '91, four FA Cups and a League Cup. While proud of his record, he often uses it to rile his rivals. The Reds rivalry with current league champion Arsenal has brought Ferguson head-to-head with Gunners manager Arsene Wenger in a separate mind games competition. The United manager tries to overemphasize any sign of Arsenal weaknesses while staunchly avoiding mention of any of his own team's shortcomings. When he heard that Wenger had celebrated winning his 500th Premier League point with a glass of champagne, Ferguson was quick to suggest it was a sign of Arsenal's overconfidence. Now the two teams are level on points in the title race and Ferguson believes he has proved his point. He is also famous for his outbursts at his own players. A month ago after a disappointing 2-0 loss to Arsenal, Ferguson kicked a soccer boot so hard it struck England captain David Beckham, cutting him above the left eye. Ferguson is also renowned for his halftime "hairdryer" routine - screaming at a player from so close that he can feel the heat of the manager's breath. (AP)

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