PreviousNext

Sir Alex Ferguson had the title... then he lost it

By // Sports | Sir Alex Ferguson had the title... then he lost it
Email to a friend Plain text Print version // Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font

By Michael Walker

PUBLISHED: 16:40 EST, 13 May 2012 | UPDATED: 16:40 EST, 13 May 2012

So cruel: Rooney shows his frustration

So cruel: Rooney shows his frustration

When Sir Alex Ferguson came up with one his most famous remarks - 'Football, bloody hell,' - it was in the brilliant, crazy aftermath of Manchester United's epic European Cup triumph over Bayern Munich in Barcelona.

Thirteen years on, Ferguson looked as if those words were going through his head once again on Sunday.

Same words, different meaning.  It was 13 seconds after the final whistle.

Once referee Howard Webb blew, Ferguson moved across to shake the hand of Martin O'Neill, then marched on to the Stadium of Light pitch.

At that moment, the title was on hold. The atmosphere inside the ground was heavy, uncertain, quiet, not unlike a hospital waiting room.

The scene had a slow motion feel to it.

Ferguson had just heard of Edin Dzeko's equaliser at Eastlands but in those few seconds Manchester United were champions of England for the 20th time.

In a room at the stadium a Premier League trophy was being prepared with red ribbons.

Ferguson could not see that, which was a small mercy for him. He was on the grass with United's players who thought were about to hear good news.

Crying shame: Patrice Evra weeps as the title that seemed to be theirs was snatched away

Crying shame: Patrice Evra weeps as the title that seemed to be theirs was snatched away

Ferguson ushered them towards the travelling United fans who were hanging in that same waiting room themselves.

And then, up in the south-west corner, adjacent to the visiting support, a noise erupted from Sunderland fans.

Ferguson's antennae picked it up instantly. There was no hesitation on his part, no thinking this could be a hoax.

Ferguson knows football, knows it can bring pain as well as pleasure. He was in Barcelona. QPR had not been able to match Aberdeen against Real Madrid.

Football, bloody hell.

United won, they lost, they had it, then they didn't.

Down to earth: Antonio Valencia can't believe the title slipped away

Down to earth: Antonio Valencia can't believe the title slipped away

As Ferguson turned for the tunnel, Sunderland fans were already doing The Poznan.

Mockery comes quick.

So, too, from Ferguson, did 'congratulations to our neighbours'.

His response was magnanimous.

'We congratulate Manchester City. Anyone who wins the league deserves to win it because it's a very, very difficult league to win. We know that because, as we've experienced today, we've lost on goal difference.'

Mockery: Sunderland fans celebrate a goal by Manchester City by doing a Poznan

Mockery: Sunderland fans celebrate a goal by Manchester City by doing a Poznan

Eight goals over 10 months, a difference as slim as an upright. United understand its dimensions, having struck the woodwork three times on Sunday.

Wayne Rooney hit the crossbar in the first half and a post in the second. He scored the decisive goal, his 27th in the Premier League this season, his best league tally by one.

As he boarded the team bus afterwards in club-issue black suit, Rooney's face gave no hint of happiness at that fact.

'We're all disappointed, obviously,' Ferguson had added. 'We should be disappointed because we did our best today. But for their goalkeeper, we could have scored seven goals. We hit the post, the bar and the goalkeeper made fantastic saves throughout the match. We conducted ourselves in the right way.

'Yes, there will be a time when we can sit back and say we did this wrong, we did that wrong, but 89 points would have won the league most seasons.

Magnanimous in defeat: In any other year Sir Alex Ferguson knows United would have won the title

Magnanimous in defeat: In any other year Sir Alex Ferguson knows United would have won the title

'They're a good bunch of lads. The younger players will remember today because sometimes a bad experience is even better for you.'

Ferguson was correct about that points total. United won their historic 19th title last season with 80 points. They scored fewer goals then, and conceded more.

United improved by nine points; City improved by 18.

Ferguson said there were no recriminations but the sight of Nemanja Vidic in the directors' box was a reminder of what United have missed since December 7.

Vidic played in neither league derby against City, he was not there when Everton scored two late goals of their own three Sundays ago.

Vidic was injured in Basle when United exited the Champions League. If the league offers one measurement of a team, then so does Europe. United were deservedly beaten by Basle and then by Athletic Bilbao in the Europa League.

Ferguson will address that in due course.

Signing off: Signage for the potential trophy presentation had to be shelved

Signing off: Signage for the potential trophy presentation had to be shelved

There was some consolation in pushing the league to the last kick of the last day but ultimately Old Trafford has its first trophy-less season since 2004-05. That was Rooney's first season at the club, Roy Keane's last full one.

After United had gone out of the Champions League at AC Milan, Ferguson had spoken inside the San Siro of renewal, of the youth of Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo.

On Sunday he talked of a clutch of young players - Jonny Evans, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, David De Gea among others – and said they could be at United for 'five, six, seven, 10 years.

'The experience is good for them even if it's a bad one.'

Learning process: Jonny Evans (right) is among a crop of exciting United youngsters

Learning process: Jonny Evans (right) is among a crop of exciting United youngsters

On Friday the 70 year-old had warned City: 'We're not going away and I'm not either.'

Here he addressed City again: 'They can go on as much as they like but the history of our club stands us aside. We don't need to worry about that. I think we have a rich history, better than anyone and it'll take them a century to get to our level of history.

'But for us, it's still a challenge and we're good at challenges. We'll kick on from here.'

That process may have started - there were shades of Spanish pressing when Sunderland had the ball.

Then United had the home team on the carousel in the second half. They were controlling possession, counting down the seconds and shaping their future.

But back in Manchester, City were stealing United's late, late trademark. Or, as Ferguson would say, borrowing it.

Tagged : No tags for this article

Headlines Newsview all

Amanda Holden at the centre of Twitter backlash as she sends daughter to school dressed as Pretty Woman prostitute for fancy dress day

A parenting group has slammed TV star Amanda Holden for posting a picture of her nine-year-old daughter 'dressed as a prostitute' online.The Britain's Got Talent ... Full story

Grandmother filmed confronting militants and branding them 'devils' before quoting verses in the Koran that forbid slaughter

An incredible video has emerged showing the moment an elderly woman bravely confronted two Islamic State militants, telling them their terror group is cursed and ... Full story

Jobseeker shocked to be sent rudest rejection email ever calling him an 'old, aesthetically challenged professional pr*** with no teeth'

A jobseeker was shocked after he was branded as 'irritating', 'rude' and 'obnoxious' in a cutting email accidentally sent to him by a prospective employer.James ... Full story

Youngsters turning their backs on binge drinking with 40% surge in teetotal teens and students

Teenagers and young adults are turning their backs on binge drinking, dramatic new figures have revealed.The proportion of teetotal 16-to-24 year olds has rocketed by ... Full story

Talented 18-year-old pianist who had won a place at Cambridge University was killed by a train after suffering a lapse into deep depression

A gifted 18-year-old pupil who had won a place at Cambridge University was killed by a train after suffering a lapse into 'deep depression', his ... Full story

Former PE teacher, 91, becomes oldest person ever sent to prison for the first time after being found guilty of string of sex attacks on boys

A 91-year-old former teacher has become the oldest person to be sent to prison for the first time after he was jailed for carrying out ... Full story

Beauty therapist who posted dozens of weight loss selfies showing off her new slim figure on Facebook is reported for encouraging nudity

A beauty therapist who posted dozens of 'selfie' pictures of her new slimline figure on Facebook said she was shocked and upset after being reported ... Full story

Parents slam former Ofsted boss Zenna Atkins who is now chair of school governors over x-rated messages she posted on public Facebook page

Parents have slammed a former Ofsted chief who is now chairman of a school's governing board over x-rated messages she posted on Facebook.Zenna Atkins, who ... Full story

Taxpayers forked out £2,300 a month for council boss on £195,000 a year salary to drive luxury Porsche

Taxpayers paid out more than £2,300 a month for a council chief executive on a £195,000 a year salary to drive around in a luxury ... Full story

30 signs YOUR relationship has hit the comfort zone (and will go the distance)

Do you go au natural around your partner, chat to them while naked and do their laundry? You've officially hit the comfort zone.New research reveals ... Full story

Number of Muslim children in England and Wales doubles in a decade with one in 12 school pupils now brought up in Islamic home

The number of Muslim children in England and Wales has doubled in a decade, according to the most detailed study of its kind.An analysis of ... Full story

Comment on: Sir Alex Ferguson had the title... then he lost it

Rate this article

0

Featured author

Robert Livingston

Breaking News

Thomson and First Choice cancel all Tunisian holidays as airlift of fleeing British tourists begins

Thomson and First Choice have cancelled flights to Tunisia this weekTravel agents will evacuate as many as 2,500 Brits from Tunisia todayAnyone on Thomas ...

Football-mad schoolboy, 13, drowned after falling into Thames while playing with friends

Aown Dogar fell into the murky river near Donnington Bridge in OxfordCould not be dragged out by rescue crews who were called around 7pm Described as ...

Surf’s up! Boardriders take on the biggest waves in years off at remote Western Australian break churned up by massive offshore storm

Surfers in Western Australia gathered to brave treacherous conditions after a storm produced the 'swell of a decade'The massive swell is a result of strong ...

Iggy Azalea's 39-year-old rapper ex claims the singer gave him an STD

Iggy Azalea met 39-year-old Maurice Williams, aka Hefe Wine, when she was a vulnerable 17-year-old 'fresh off the bus' from AustraliaWilliams claims that Azalea gave ...

Teenager facing terrorism charges after making a list of people who’s heads he wanted to cut off

Teenage boy arrested after police discover list of people he wanted to killThe list reportedly was of people who he planned to behead in an ...

Suspected car thief stripped naked and 'jumped from roof to roof' to escape police sniffer dog... but it caught is when witnesses notice nude man acting strangely

Two men were spotted driving a stolen vehicle in Mount Lawley, PerthPolice allege they crashed the car into a fence and fled the scene Officers deployed ...

ANZ rejects human rights commissioner's recommendation to apologise to a man after company refused to hire him for his armed robbery offence

Gillian Triggs handed down her recommendations to ANZ in MarchThe report was into discrimination in employment based on criminal recordIt reveals that a man, Mr ...

No windows or walls, and barely enough room to lie down: Remarkable pictures reveal the cramped conditions inside Tokyo's infamous 'shoebox' hotels

By Daniel Piotrowski for Daily Mail Australia Published: 02:15 GMT, 27 June 2015 | Updated: 07:24 GMT, 27 June 2015 ...

Migrants could be biggest threat to Europe since the war, writes MICHAEL BURLEIGH

By Michael Burleigh for the Daily Mail Published: 21:00 GMT, 26 June 2015 | Updated: 07:15 GMT, 27 June 2015 ...

Does your summer look like this? How the Rich Kids of Instagram are spending their holidays... from road trips in luxury cars to sunbathing on million-dollar yachts

These unapologetically rich teens are celebrating their summers in styleThey have all documented their self-indulgent experiences on InstagramThese include flying to lavish holiday resorts via ...