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Sunday, 16 February, 2003, 23:43 GMT
Ferguson hits out at FA
Sir Alex Ferguson has points the finger at the FA
Sir Alex Ferguson has pointed the finger at the FA
Sir Alex Ferguson has pointed the finger of blame at the Football Association for England's friendly fiasco against Australia.

Manchester United boss Ferguson reacted strongly to criticism of Old Trafford players and England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson after the 3-1 defeat at Upton Park.

He hit out at the timing of the game, which was played just days before the FA Cup fifth round tie between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford.

You can't blame the coach or the players - you have to blame the associations

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Ferguson has also come under fire for insisting his players should not complete a full 90 minutes for England.

He had previously branded the scheduling of the game as "stupid" - and insists players and coach Eriksson have been placed in an impossible position by the FA.

Eriksson and FA officials now plan talks with the Premiership's managerial elite in an attempt to solve the crisis.

Ferguson does not blame England coach Eriksson
Ferguson does not blame England coach Eriksson

Ferguson said: "You can't blame the coach or the players - you have to blame the associations.

"They have a Wednesday international three days before Manchester United play Arsenal in a 12.15 kick-off - you have to say something is wrong with that situation.

"We have been talking about this problem for 25 years and people always say there are too many games.

"If that is the case why don't they reduce the number of games. All we need is someone to make a decision and do what is best for football."

Eriksson is apparently planning a meeting with bosses such as Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and Gerard Houllier in a bid to sort out a combined strategy.

Ferguson said he would welcome the talks and hopes the meeting does eventually take place.

"It's not a showdown - that is not the right word to use," he said.

"But it's good to talk and you should never ignore the value of speaking about the problem.

"These talks may happen and if they do, they would be a good thing."

Meanwhile, Ferguson said he expects skipper Roy Keane to see out his contract following his retirement from international football.

Kenae announced his intention to turn his back on new Ireland boss Brian Kerr following specialist medical advice.

Ferguson said: "I don't think this decision will extend Roy's career.

"That's not the way we were looking at it.

"We just want to make sure he sees out his contract.

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