Contribution by Robert Jeffries
Manchester United have revealed that they will not be appealing against the five game ban handed to Sir Alex Ferguson over the comments made after the 2-1 loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge earlier this month.
The decision leaves possibly more questions than answers as the fallout over the issue rattles on.
Does accepting the ban mean Sir Alex has come to terms and accepted he made a mistake in his choice of words so must therefore face the punishment, and learn to abide by the rules whilst upholding the FA’s continuing “Respect” campaign?
Or perhaps he has nothing to regret, and in appealing could only jeopardise Man United’s chance of capturing a magnificent Treble once more if his absence is left to roll on too close to the run in at the end of the season?
Maybe it is neither, but if the former were true, many a football supporter, United or otherwise would be in need of medical help to come to terms with it.
With the touchline ban coming into immediate effect, it sees Ferguson return for what could be the deciding factor in this year’s title race, away to Arsenal on May 1st. It has all the hallmarks to write its own headlines if United take three points from the Emirates, but there was always to be a sting in the tail as the semi-final of the FA Cup is a casualty of the spell away from the dugout.
From Ferguson’s perspective, it could be seen to be the lesser of two evils, get it over and done with, avoid prolonging the situation which could have meant missing the FA Cup semi-final, Arsenal and Chelsea completely, and just get back to business at the start of May.
What is forgotten about though, and without wanting to show too much bias, Manchester United has belief; in abundance more often than not.
Sir Alex will no doubt have it instilled into the minds of every player that his presence for 450 minutes may be lacking from pitch side, but for the time before, between and after the games, he will be there.
Not to mention, with qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Champions League and facing Chelsea, it allows Ferguson back into the technical area for a high calibre game in preparation of the FA Cup tie, which will come just days after the second leg against Chelsea at home.
The question that will inevitably linger after the ban has been played out though; will Sir Alex attempt to query a referee again? It’s like asking if bears do their business in the woods if you ask me.
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