Ferguson mind games show Arsenal fear

Even though there has been no love lost between Arsenal and Manchester United for many years, Sir Alex Ferguson’s latest rant is evidence that he views the Gunners as genuine title contenders.

Sir Alex always enjoys a touch of psychology and, even though it only worked against Kevin Keegan, he usually reserves his barbed comments for teams he wants to peg back.

But not only were his words untrue, they made him look quite foolish.

He told MUTV: “I think Howard Webb has a great chance to be the top referee but today was a big game for him and, at times, he favoured Arsenal.”

Personally I thought the referee did quite well and if anything he denied the North London side a penalty when Hleb had his shirt tugged off his back.

And, hoping to add further fuel to the fire, Sir Alex had another pop at Arsenal for their lack of English players.

“For the good of the game in England, it would be good to see more home-based players at the top clubs.” he told Inside United magazine.

He continued: “I totally agree [with Blatter], but there would be opposition from clubs like Liverpool and Arsenal.”

The Premier League is only a third of the way through but after Arsenal’s undefeated start to the season, Ferguson certainly knows which team will push his side hardest in the title run in.

And from the extent of the mind games so early in the season he is expecting it to go right down to the wire.

Ferguson finally admits Stam blunder

Many football fans will know that Sir Alex Ferguson regards Manchester United’s reputation as one Europe’s football giants as the most important aspect of the club.

If any player thinks he is bigger than the club or has disrespected his team-mates he will immediately be shown the door.

Think of the players that have been turfed out of United in the past – Lee Sharpe, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, David Beckham and Roy Keane are just a few.

But one of the best was undoubtedly Jaap Stam.

The Dutch giant was immense form his first game for the Old Trafford club and quickly emerged as their defensive bedrock.

However, when the centre-back slammed the Neville brothers and accused Sir Alex of tapping him up in his ill-fated autobiography it was obvious that his days were numbered.

Lazio offered £16.5 million for his services and the rest his history.Stam was quickly shown the door and the following 2001/02 season United’s defence faltered nd the Red Devils were tropyhless.

Surely one of Ferguson’s worst blunders, and probably one he wouldn’t admit – until now.

Still refusing to declare the reasons behind Stam’s departure, Ferguson told an audience in the Citizen’s theatre in Glasgow: “At the time he had just come back from an Achilles injury and we thought he had just lost a little bit.

“We got the offer from Lazio – £16.5m for a centre-back that was 29. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.”But in playing terms it was a mistake. He is still playing for Ajax at a really good level.”

Ferguson is right, It’s just a shame that he didn’t see it that way at the time.

In Stam’s three short seasons, United won the title every season and completed the treble.

Who knows how many more trophies they would have in their cabinet if he had stayed.