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May 17, 2013

Ferguson admits pressuring officials

Ahead of his final game in management, Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted to MUTV that he has made deliberate attempts to pressure officials throughout his career.

• Ferguson: Title decided future

Ferguson, who takes his Manchester United side to West Brom on Sunday, has long been accused of seeking to influence decisions in his side's favour, whether by berating officials from the touchline and in the tunnel or making comments in the media.

In 2012, the BBC established that "Fergie time" - the perception that his team were given extra seconds when losing - was real, and that United were given, on average, 79 seconds extra when losing after 90 minutes. Rafa Benitez, the former Liverpool manager, famously presented his "facts" about Ferguson's manipulation of officials in 2009.

The "Fergie time" issue has been in the spotlight again in light of his retirement, and the 71-year-old - who joked that he plans to give successor David Moyes his watch as a welcome present - said: "The fourth official on Sunday against Swansea showed me the board and it said eight minutes - I said: 'Think again'.

"But that's been a part of it too, the pressure you try and put on referees. I save mind games for opponents, though."

However, he said that his famous use of the "hairdryer" - blasting players who stepped out of line - was not one of his favoured managerial techniques.

"That's overplayed, honestly," he said. "I'm fed up reading about it."

Meanwhile, Rio Ferdinand has told the club's official website that the players feel they will have to prove themselves all over again under Moyes.

The 34-year-old, who this week announced his retirement from international football, said: "He's going to come in with new ideas, new rules and a new regime.

"No matter how long we've been here, the likes of Ryan Giggs and myself have been here for many years, we'll be in the same boat instead as people like Danny Welbeck, Phil Jones and Tom Cleverley. So we've all got to be wanting to prove ourselves to make sure he thinks we're the right people to start each game.

"They are massive shoes to fill but he couldn't be walking into a healthier situation. The young players here are hungry and want to win stuff. The senior players have won a lot of things but have still got the desire and the work ethic that the manager has instilled into us. I think that's vital for the future of the club."

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