Oh dear here we go.
Man United boss sir Alex Ferguson, not content with moaning about Rafa Benitez’s arrogance or Arsene Wenger’s team selection, has found another excuse for his side’s failings: The changing rooms.
Yep according to Fergie the changing rooms at some Premier League clubs are below the standards expected of the modern day footballer and he believes some sort of minimum code of standards need to be brought in – like those for the stadium terraces.
Ferguson told Inside United magazine:
“Everton’s are so narrow it is unbelievable.
“Portsmouth’s away dressing room is not great and the one at Craven Cottage is smaller than my office.
“Fulham is one of my favourite grounds but when you have 18 players stripping down, plus coaches, physios and kit men, it is ridiculous really.”
18 stripping players indeed Fergie.
Well, naked players apart Ferguson’s latest moan seems highly unnecessary. Haven’t United got enough advantages as it is?
They are one of the richest clubs in the world, they bully other clubs into selling their best players (Berbatov anyone?) hoover up all the best young talent across the globe when they are barely out of nappies and consistently have the rub of the green when it comes to big refereeing decisions.
Giving away teams the more uncomfortable changing rooms is a piece of psychological warfare that happens at every level of football across the world. Even modern day stadiums, Sunderland’s Stadium of Light for example, have considerably smaller away changing rooms than home. Why shouldn’t the home side give themselves as much an advantage as possible?
Granted the stadiums Fergie mentions are among the oldest in the division but they are hardly slums. I’m sure his comments are an insult to the hardworking staff at Fratton Park, Craven Cottage and Goodison Park who do their best despite working in stands that are, in places, nearly 40 years old.
If United want to bring a coach-load of backroom staff then that’s their problem. I feel it’s just another example of Ferguson’s arrogance as anything he finds remotely uncomfortable he demands the Premier League bring in a rule to ensure everything is to his liking.
He has, of course, a history of giving amusing excuses for his side’s failings. The most infamous one was probably the grey kit fiasco in 1996. When his side fell 3-0 down away at Southampton Ferguson claimed his players couldn’t see each other in their grey away kit and ordered them to change at half time. They still lost 3-1.
But if Fergie finds Craven Cottage uncomfortable I wonder what his reaction would be if he had travelled to Cambridge United in the early 90s under controversial boss John Beck.
Pushing gamesmanship to the extreme Beck:
*Repositioned the away team’s dug-out in order to make it harder for the visiting side’s coaching staff to relay their instructions.
*Ordered his ground staff to grow the grass longer in the corners of the pitch to help slow the ball up when his team pumped it down the channels.
*Told his ball boys to delay returning the ball to the opposition while instructing them to hand it back to his own side as quickly as possible, drying it with a towel as they did so.
*Turn up the heating in the visitors’ dressing room on the warmest of days and turning it off on cold ones in a blatant attempt to disrupt their preparations.
*Made the opposition warm up with balls that had been soaked overnight in water.
I wonder what Ferguson and his merry band of pampered players would have made of that?