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  Thursday, 15 August, 2002, 11:37 GMT 12:37 UK
It wasn't our fault!
Sir Alex Ferguson
Ferguson did not let veteran Man Utd haters down



As news of Manchester United's shock defeat in Hungary reverberated around Europe, there was only one question on everyone's minds.

What excuse would Sir Alex Ferguson give this time?

It's a well-known fact that United never actually lose games, but are the victims of a cunning, worldwide conspiracy.

That's Fergie's story - and he's sticking to it.

Having said that, for a few fleeting moments, it actually looked like the canny Scot was going to take the 1-0 reverse to Zalaegerszeg on the chin.

"They had one attack and scored one goal. But we only have ourselves to blame," he began - as viewers waited for the Do Not Adjust Your Set message to appear.

Sir Alex Ferguson
Have you seen the reffing time?!

Thankfully, normal service was resumed as soon as possible, with Sir Alex continuing: "The pitch was very bumpy which is possibly a reason for the (lack of) smoothness of our passing."

Brilliant! In fact why not go one better and ban any team whose average player earns less than 20,000 a week from hosting matches?

That way everyone would start on a level playing field.

Mind you, even the hallowed turf at Old Trafford has received the hair-dryer treatment from the great man.

When United were bundled out of the FA Cup by West Ham last year, Ferguson complained there had been too much rugby played on the pitch.

He also insisted the referee had not played enough injury time - unlike the 1999 European Cup Final, of course.

Torrid

In fact, the only thing Sir Alex neglected to mention about that fateful January afternoon was Fabien Barthez's ridiculous taxi-hailing impression, which let in Paolo di Canio for the winning goal.

Time is always of the essence for Ferguson. If United are losing, the referee should add it on, if they're winning, he should blow his whistle.

You can guarantee as a game enters the 89th minute with United hanging on to a one-goal advantage, Fergie will start pointing furiously at his timepiece.

You could almost set your watch by it.

The officials themselves also come in for a torrid time if United lose or have a player sent off.

And in 1996, Fergie infamously accused the entire Leeds team of not trying against Newcastle, prompting Kevin Keegan's legendary "loov it" rant.

Roy Keane
Over here, Roy!

Six months later, Newcastle took their revenge with a 5-0 walloping of United, whose players were subsequently diagnosed as "jet-lagged" by Dr Ferguson.

But of all the excuses he has proferred over the years, one stands head and shoulders above the rest. In fact, it's in a different league.

Cast your mind back to 1996, when United visited Southampton for a league match.

The Red Devils found themselves 3-0 down at half-time and eventually went on to lose the match 3-1.

And the reason? According to Fergie, the grey shirts his men were wearing meant they were unable to see one another.

You couldn't make it up.

Naturally, the strip was immediately replaced with a new design, forcing fans to shell out a fortune for replica kits.

Some things never change.

 VOTE RESULTS
Sir Alex Ferguson's best excuse for their defeat?

'A bumpy pitch'
 75.55% 

'A bad referee'
 24.45% 

11007 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Sir Alex Ferguson's Champions League hopes lie in the balance
Fergie's harsh reality


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