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Dirty Tackle

Alex Ferguson ‘not in a fit state to talk’ after Nani red, but Roy Keane defends ref

Brooks Peck
Dirty Tackle

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A heavily debated red card for Nani in the 56th minute of the Champions League round of 16 second leg match between Manchester United and Real Madrid proved to be quite a turning point. Man United had a 1-0 lead in the game and 2-1 lead on aggregate before Nani's high boot that caught Alvaro Arbeloa in the midsection and less than 15 minutes after Man United were reduced to 10 men, Real Madrid scored twice to take a lead they wouldn't give back.

[Related: Ronaldo, Real Madrid salvage season, leave Man Utd seeing red]

Here's video of Nani's sending off, including Alex Ferguson angrily shuffling down the stairs...


After the match, Jose Mourinho was quick to say recognize the difference the red card made in the match. From the Scotsman:

“Independent of the decision, the best team lost. We didn’t play well, we didn’t deserve to win but football is like this,” said the Portuguese. “They were very aggressive, they were very well organised tactically and the match was very difficult for us. But I doubt that 11 against 11 we can win that match.”

Alex Ferguson, however, was either too irate or just too depressed to speak to press. An unusual occurrence for a man who never passes on a chance to publicly berate an official. Instead, he sent assistant manager Mike Phelan to speak for him.

Rio Ferdinand applauded the official sarcastically after the final whistle, whilst a clearly incensed Ferguson took the unprecedented step of avoiding media duties, presumably for fear of what he might say.

“The manager is not in fit state to talk to the referee about the decision,” said Phelan.

“It speaks volumes that I am sat here.

“We are all witnesses to a decision that seemed very harsh, and incredible at that moment in the game.”

By those statements and Ferguson's reaction during the match, it's clear that Man United felt aggrieved by the decision. But former Man United captain Roy Keane, who now seems to get a perverse pleasure from antagonizing his old club, decided to defend the referee's decision.

"I actually think he's made the right call," Keane said on ITV. "Whatever people are getting upset about it -- anytime I was sent off in my career, I always thought 'Did I give the referee a chance to send me off?' And if the answer was 'yeah' then it was out of your hands. And I think the referee's actually made the right call. And everyone's upset about it and they're slightly unlucky, but it's dangerous play. Whether he meant it or not is irrelevant."

Meanwhile, instead of speaking to the press, Alex Ferguson committed acts that would make Patrick Bateman from American Psycho seem well adjusted.

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