Sir Alex Ferguson banned two journalists for reporting that Rio Ferdinand would miss the Everton game.
Sir Alex Ferguson banning reporters from weekly press conference at Carrington is nothing new, nor is he silent in his criticism for some journalists who he believes create fictitious stories to unsettle his Manchester United players. James Ducker, The Times North West correspondent, posted an interested link to debate on Ferguson’s latest ban. Two journalists, Mark Ogden and Paul Hetherington have been banned from United press conferences, apparently for reporting that Rio Ferdinand would not feature in the 1-0 defeat to Everton recently – a story, that turned out to be true. Here we look at the views from both sides of this decision.
Ferguson has one interest: To protect Manchester United
We won’t get into the Rock of Gibraltar conspiracies right now, but lets face facts – Ferguson, most of the time, has Manchester United at the top of his priority list and surely the news that United are facing a defensive crisis will aid opposing managers in how to setup in a forthcoming fixture. Rio Ferdinand’s injuries have been well documented since he pulled up in the Christmas 2008 fixture away at Stoke City, however – many Reds did expect him to line up in the first Premier League game of the season, alongside Nemanja Vidic – who ironically was also missing in action for some time. Both journalists wrote articles on August 18th stating that Ferdinand would be absent, following an injury in training, and that Michael Carrick would partner Vidic at the back.
It was Carrick who lost out in a header to Fellaini for the only goal of the game, but it was the performance of the Belgium midfielder that stood out. Trapping the ball with his knee, chest, head, feet – he was unplayable at times, although Ferguson – probably still angry at the manner of defeat – claimed that Everton just ‘lumped the ball’ up to their target man. Would Rio Ferdinand have dealt with Fellaini any better than Carrick did? Who knows, but Ferguson’s banning of Ogden and Hetherington would suggest he felt Moyes was given an advantage from the leaked stories. As he is manager of Manchester United, surely he should be allowed to pick and choose who attends his press conferences?
Censorship – Pro United stories only please
Surely Sir Alex should look at who leaked the story to the press, rather than ban the reporters who, as James Ducker suggests, are merely doing their job? Do we want journalists, naming no names, that write stories such as ‘Lucas Moura set for Manchester United medical’? Do we want those ITKs writing nonsense about transfers/gossip that they haven’t the foggiest idea about? Or do we want those journalists retweeting stories (recently a number of journalists reported that Malcolm Glazer had died, without even checking whether the story was true or not)? Or, do we want journalist that report the news and give us up to date information on the state of the club and the players?
It is all too easy to blame the messenger, however both journalists would have obtained this information from somewhere – unless serial Twitter user Ferdinand tweeted a picture of himself on crutches. What should they have done? Ignored the story because it could potentially hinder the preparation of Manchester United or report what they had been told? A bit unfair if you think about it – we do not live in communist China.
I have put together two opinions and hopefully you will share yours in the comments box. Personally, hopefully not sitting on the fence, Sir Alex should investigate where this news was leaked from, rather than target two journalists who were indeed ‘doing their job’. Having said that, Ferguson’s prime concern is the state of Manchester United and if he feels the leaked story gave an upper hand to his opponent David Moyes, then surely he is right to be angry? James Ducker is no doubt defending his profession and puts across a number of good points, however if Ferguson feels his team is compromised – surely he can react?
His obsessive control over the club and apparent ‘punishment’ is nothing new in how he has conducted himself over the years when he sees an ‘injustice’ that he simply can’t comprehend. He will never change, but surely his actions show his desire for United to keep succeeding at the highest level? If I were the two journalists I would feel hard done by, but not surprised by his actions. Freedom of press is important, Ferguson obviously sees United’s tactical preparation even more so.