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Ferguson calm after United's Champions draw

Martin Rogers
Yahoo Sports
Ferguson calm after United's Champions draw
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Sir Alex Ferguson's said stories of the United coach's overblown temper are exaggerated. "There is a …

Maybe it is just as well Sir Alex Ferguson has turned down the volume on his famously explosive postgame rants.

The Manchester United head coach admitted this week that he has learned to control his temper in recent years, but his team's lackluster defense in a 3-3 Champions League draw with FC Basel on Tuesday surely will test that newfound sense of calm.

United blew a two-goal lead at home and came within minutes of defeat before Ashley Young salvaged a point with a late headed equalizer.

It was a wildly entertaining night at Old Trafford, and for the neutral spectator, one of the most enjoyable games of the first two rounds of this season's competition.

For Ferguson, though, the mental lapses that allowed the Swiss champions to turn the contest around in the second half are of some concern. Even with just two points from two games, United should have enough class to comfortably qualify for the knockout round. The boss, however, will be determined to avoid a repeat of this uncharacteristic collapse.

A pair of goals from Danny Wellbeck had United cruising after only 16 minutes and it looked as if it would be another routine night for the home side.

However, Basel came out firing in the second half. Fabien Frei got one goal back after 58 minutes before Alexander Frei made it 2-2 with a well-taken header just 90 seconds later. When Alexander Frei put Basel ahead from the penalty spot with 20 minutes left, United was on course for only its third home defeat in the Champions League in the past 10 years.

Yet while the defensive charity was unexpected, the late surge that leveled the scores was pure United. An outstanding cross from the right by Nani was met by Ashley Young, who continued his excellent form since joining the club in the summer by heading home his first Champions League goal.

Even so, United knows that much better is expected.

"Manchester United should not be finishing off games like this, it is not like us," said Welbeck, whose ongoing improvement has him in strong contention for a regular role on the England national team. "Basel came out for the second half, and we didn't start as bright as we should have. They gradually worked their way back into the game.

"We found it difficult, but we should have put the game away and we are very disappointed. This feels like a defeat."

A 1-1 draw at Stoke cost United its perfect record in the English Premier League last weekend, and this second straight Champions League draw has added pressure to its European campaign.

Ferguson has no reason to feel anything resembling panic yet, and he's been around long enough to know that things are bubbling along quite nicely. All the more reason, perhaps, to stay philosophical.

"There is a lot of myth attached to [my reputation]," Ferguson said. "In training there is nothing but praise for every player. Nothing but positives.

"I am a confrontational character, and I don't like people arguing back to me. I think that is where the 'hairdryer' treatment came from. It is part of the myth and the circus and it is completely exaggerated, like the throwing of the teacups."

Ferguson's furious tirades have become the stuff of legend, especially the "hairdryer" rants where he is said to scream at players so loudly that the blast of his breath is forceful enough to dry their hair. Years ago, it also was rumored that he regularly hurled cups of tea at the locker room walls when unimpressed with the team's performance.

Perhaps Ferguson has mellowed with age, but any more defensive meltdowns like that of Tuesday could see the return of that famous temper.

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