Former Premier League referee Howard Webb has revealed how Sir Alex Ferguson once attempted to pressure him in to abandoning a Manchester United fixture.
Th match in question was between Fulham and the Red Devils in 2009, and ended up with the Cottagers thrashing an injury-ravaged United side 3-0.
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It appears Ferguson was fearing this before kick off, and had attempted some extreme measures to avoid the defeat.
‘I remember an encounter we had in December 2009, prior to a Fulham v Manchester United game,’ wrote Webb in his autobiography, which is being serialised in The Times.
‘It was a Saturday lunchtime kick-off at Craven Cottage but, as there’d been a frost, I’d been asked to conduct an early-morning pitch inspection. I rocked up bright and breezy at nine o’clock, only to find Ferguson lurking in the tunnel, waiting for me.
Revealed: When Fergie tried to pressure ref in to abandoning Man Utd match
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‘That particular month, Manchester United’s defence had been ravaged with injury, meaning that neither Nemanja Vidicć nor Rio Ferdinand, nor Jonny Evans nor John O’Shea were available for selection.
‘It was looking likely that the Reds’ boss would have to field a weakened team against Fulham, and he was clearly angling for a postponement.
”I’ve already had a look at it,’ he snapped, scanning the pitch. ‘It’s horrendous. It’s a bloody death trap.’
”I’ll check it out and let you know what I think,’ I replied.
‘After some pacing and prodding I surmised that the pitch was absolutely fine; soft underfoot with no hazardous icy patches. Right, here goes, I thought, as I walked towards the tunnel to break the news.
”See what I mean?’ Ferguson, below, barked as I approached him. ‘So the game’s off, then, yes?’
”Nope,’ I said. ‘The pitch is fine.’
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”You f***in’ what?’ he yelled. ‘You’re trying to tell me the game’s still on? I cannae believe that!’
”I am. The surface is clearly playable,’ I countered, bracing myself for another tirade. Instead, he just paused and tutted.
”Yeah, I know it is,’ he smiled, the wily old sod, and headed back up the tunnel. Five hours later his makeshift team got battered 3-0.’