In the second part of our ‘best excuses’ selection, news.bwin.com/en/ takes an in-depth look at the ingenious ways Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has attempted to explain away defeats and mistakes made by his players. A famously sore loser, Ferguson will be pleased to hear that the Red Devils are 7/4 favourites to win the Premier League title with bwin. This means a successful £25 free bet on the reigning champions to finish first, available to new customers who sign up for a bwin account, would return £68.75. But whether they win the league or not, expect the Scot to add to his long list of dubious excuses before the season is out.
Blame the pitch
This is a familiar theme for football bosses. Despite the fact that both sides play on the same patch of grass, managers still consider it acceptable to blame the undoing of their grand tactical plans on a poor pitch. There’s barely a manager in existence who hasn’t grumbled about the grass being too long, or that the turf cuts up too easily, and Ferguson is no exception to the rule. Here’s a classic example: It’s January 2001 and favourites Manchester United have just lost to West Ham in the FA Cup fourth round. Paolo di Canio scored the only goal of the game after goalkeeper Fabien Barthez chose to appeal for offside rather than attempt to stop the striker when the Italian was through on goal. However, rather than criticise the erratic Frenchman for his dubious ploy, Ferguson instead chose to talk about a game of rugby played a couple of months previously. “I can’t believe Manchester United have allowed rugby matches to be played on the pitch,” he lamented. “The biggest club in the world, and they have to play rugby every bloody November – and the pitch is a mess after it.”
Blame the sun
A woeful performance in a major competition televised the world over can be easily explained as long as it is played under the glare of the Brazilian sun. In South America for the World Club Championships in 2000, United drew with Necaxa 1-1 before losing 3-1 to Vasco da Gama. In both matches, the Red Devils were forced to play the first half looking into a setting sun and this, Ferguson believes, dealt a hammer blow to their chances in the tournament. Note how he didn’t mention anything about the embarrassing defensive errors committed by Gary Neville or the sending off of David Beckham in the game against Necaxa.
I always thought jet lag was caused by flying across multiple time zones, but not according to Fergie. Apparently you can be struck down by jetlag on the short hop from Turkey. Not only that, but the effects can still be felt more than three days later, and to such an extent that a team can fall to a humiliating 5-0 drubbing against their nearest title rivals. Against this backdrop, United’s defeat to Newcastle in 1996 was almost inevitable.
Blame the kit
The excuse to end all excuses. Trailing 3-0 to Southampton at the Dell at half-time, Ferguson blamed his team’s problems on their grey kit. Apparently the players had difficulty picking each other out so they took to the pitch for the second half in eye-catching blue and white. And lost 3-1.
Blame everything else
Your star player has been sent off after receiving two yellow cards, the second of which was for hand ball. Do you: a) Say the hand ball was an act of self-defence; b) Say the player thought he had heard a whistle; c) Say the player was pushed; d) Blame the crowd; e) Suggest the decision was harsh because he “hadn’t punched the ball”; f) Offer all of the above as excuses. It’s the latter, obviously. Sometimes it’s best to cover all bases, and Fergie certainly did that when defending Cristiano Ronaldo in November 2008.