Football: It's All Ogre Now as Fergie Lets His Mask Slip

Article excerpt

Byline: BRIAN READE

EVEN die-hard loathers of Man United, whose dartboards have been obscured for decades by pictures of their players, were starting to warm to them.

Admittedly, it was mainly down to an even bigger hatred of Chelsea and their swaggering assumption that they could construct a dynasty overnight with dodgy roubles. But no matter. People who previously found it impossible to like United were willing them on.

Their fearless, attacking football reminded us of a time when you could win the League without smothering the life out of every game. And unlike recent United sides, these players didn't swarm around referees unleashing phlegmwrapped abuse.

It meant that, for once, they were heading into the season's final straight with more good wishes than Kylie on a cancer ward. Then the ogre exploded, and we remembered what it was we most hated about Alex Ferguson's sides. Him.

These were Fergie's words to Sky reporter Geoff Shreeves on Monday night, after the Laird decided his questioning of Ronaldo was too probing: "F*****g bastard... F**k off to you, you ****. F**k off... You f*****g be professional ... F***ing hell with your answers."

Clearly this most noble Knight of the Realm doesn't think it is right to question penalty decisions. Despite two days earlier when referee Alan Wiley gave Bolton a penalty at Old Trafford, he gave his trademark hairdryer treatment to a linesman and fourth official, complete with full range of expletives.

It was ugly, undignified, unnecessary (they were 4-0 up at the time) and showed Fergie as the nasty vindictive, tyrant that we'd forgotten he was. The attack on Shreeves confirming that this elder statesman image he'd been perfecting to win a PR battle with Chelsea, was a facade. That he is still the worst kind of thuggish bully.

A man who hasn't spoken to the BBC for three years because they had the audacity to look into his agent son's transfer dealings. …