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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 1, 2006

Ferguson backing LMA stance on coaching row

Sir Alex Ferguson has no personal grudge against Gareth Southgate but he is adamant the Middlesbrough manager should not be in the home dugout when Manchester United visit the Riverside tomorrow.

As a committee member with the League Managers' Association, Ferguson is steadfastly behind the organisation's belief that all league managers should have their UEFA pro-licence, something Southgate and Newcastle counterpart Glenn Roeder do not have.

After appointing Southgate as successor to Steve McClaren, Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson successfully convinced the Premier League to let the former England defender continue in the job until he has the necessary qualifications.

Ferguson believes Gibson was totally right to fight his corner, given Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd had already persuaded his Premier League counterparts to bend their rules to let Roeder continue in charge at St James' Park.

But he feels the initial decision was wrong given the whole idea of forcing managers to take their UEFA pro-licence was to improve the standard of coaching.

'The regulations were set out to improve the standard of coaching and the people coming into the game and they should have remained,' said Ferguson.

'The whole thing was changed by Freddy Shepherd when he rounded on the other chairmen to get the rules changed so he could appoint Glenn Roeder.

'I am a committee member of the LMA, I feel the rules were absolutely correct and it was wrong to change them.

'If you want the quality of the game to improve, it has to be done through the coaches. It is nothing personal but the principle was right and the fact both Gareth Southgate and Glenn Roeder are now taking their badges gives you the answer.'

While Shepherd claimed Roeder had been unable to complete his coaching courses because he had to take time out for treatment on a brain tumour, Gibson pointed out Southgate's extensive international career was a barrier to furthering his coaching qualifications.

Ferguson can see distinct differences between the two, although the Scot accepts once the rules were amended once, it was inevitable the same thing would happen a second time.

'Once the door was opened by Freddy Shepherd, Middlesbrough were completely correct in giving the job to Gareth Southgate under exactly the same principle as Glenn Roeder got it,' said Ferguson.

'But Gareth is different from Glenn in the sense he was a player, then the next day he becomes a manager when the job is thrust upon him.

'Managers and coaches should be completely qualified if they want to raise the standards of our game but the door is open now. How you close it I don't know.'

Ferguson is exempt from having to secure a UEFA pro-licence himself as he was already managing in the top flight before the rule was introduced.

Southgate will hope to provide the perfect answer to Ferguson's argument by engineering a similar success over United to the one they enjoyed against Chelsea earlier in the season.

No-one inside the United camp will need any reminding that their last visit to Teesside turned into an unmitigated disaster as they crumbled to a 4-1 defeat which triggered Roy Keane's infamous MUTV tirade.

Ferguson is not expecting a repeat, especially as he intends to field a full-strength side after making wholesale changes for the midweek win over Everton.

Rio Ferdinand is available despite picking up an ankle knock, while Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Louis Saha can also expect a recall as United look to take advantage of Chelsea's inactivity by opening up a six-point lead at the Premiership summit.

'Last year was a bad moment for us,' admitted Ferguson.

'The team weren't playing particularly well, we had some injuries and we produced a bad performance.

'But our record up there overall is pretty good and our away record in general this season has been exceptional.

'We have only dropped two points at Reading, when they scored through a penalty, so what happened last year should not have any bearing on what we do tomorrow.

'We are in the right frame of mind. There is a great spirit, the players are enjoying their football. Hopefully we can get the result we want.'