My Soccer World

Football: Ferguson Gets Tin Hat Ready For Arsenal Test

Posted on: November 8, 2008

MANCHESTER, England : Sir Alex Ferguson said Friday he might have to resort to wearing a tin helmet at Arsenal after voicing concerns about the security provided for the Manchester United dug-out at the Emirates Stadium.

The manager and United’s substitutes and staff were abused during last season’s meeting between the two sides in north London, when William Gallas’ last minute header secured a 2-2 draw for the home side.

Ahead of Saturday’s return to the Emirates, Ferguson repeated his criticism of the arrangements at the stadium, despite Arsenal’s plans to provide additional stewards around the United bench this weekend.

“It was nasty last year,” said the manager. “It was pretty unsavoury.

“You build a modern stadium like Arsenal have done and it’s a weakness when you don’t provide safety for the visiting team’s substitutes and staff.

“But it’s too open for my liking. You need tin helmets.”

Ferguson criticism of the Arsenal fans’ conduct has triggered accusations of double standards since the abuse Arsene Wenger has had to endure over the years at Old Trafford is undeniably more intense and more unpleasant, and United have done little to prevent it.

Wenger on Friday urged Arsenal’s supporters to show respect to Ferguson and his staff. “We always want to respect our opponent and to respect the dug-out,” the Frenchman said. “The way we want to behave at Arsenal is to respect everybody.”

United face an Arsenal side who will be severely depleted following last weekend’s controversial 2-1 defeat against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.

Wenger complained bitterly Stoke’s approach to the game, insisting Tony Pulis’ side had been over-physical after losing Emmanuel Adebayor and Theo Walcott to ankle and shoulder injuries respectively.

And with Robin van Persie starting a three-match ban after being sent off in the same game, United will face Wenger’s side as clear favourites to win the game.

Ferguson, though, has dismissed the suggestion his side face an easy trip because of Arsenal’s big name absentees.

“If anybody thinks we are going to the Emirates Stadium thinking we are going to have an easy game because they are missing a couple of key players then they are mistaken,” he said.

“This will be a tough game. If you look at Arsenal and Manchester United games over the years you know they are always highly competitive and highly emotional.

“And the fans are sure to be wound up after everything that has been said this week. And we are are going to have to handle that.

“We’ve thrown games away there in the last two years to crazy goals.”

Ferguson defended Stoke in the face of Wenger’s angry outburst although he rejected claims the Arsenal’s manager’s words may have been designed to ensure greater protection from this weekend’s match officials.

The Scot said: “Against Stoke City you know you are going to be up against a team playing a certain way. They are not dirty. They are honest and committed and Tony Pulis has them playing to their strengths.

“You know that when corners are coming in you are in for a test and you have to win the headers inside the area.

“But I don’t think Arsene Wenger was trying to influence the referee ahead of our game with them.

“I think his main concern was that he had got a couple of bad injuries to two of his important players.”

Arsenal’s recent bad run has prompted suggestions this game is a must win game if they are to maintain a title challenge.

But Ferguson insisted: “We have to keep winning games and we need to be consistent. But it is November, not March or April, so the result won’t be decisive one way or the other for either team.”

– AFP/vm

Channel News Asia

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