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By ESPN Staff

Fergie backs Queiroz in Sporting 'tapping' row

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has leapt to the defence of assistant Carlos Queiroz in the Sporting Lisbon tapping-up storm.

A row has been brewing for the last two weeks between Queiroz and Sporting chairman Filipe Soares Franco, who took exception to comments by the Portuguese coach in praise of midfielder Miguel Veloso.

In the immediate aftermath of United's 2-1 win over Sporting at Old Trafford, Franco launched a furious tirade towards Queiroz, accusing him of unsettling Veloso and effectively tapping him up.

Queiroz defended his position in equally forthright terms, rejecting completely an allegation of being 'ethically and morally very low', pointing out that he had never actually made the comments Franco was responding to.

Franco not only rejected Queiroz's demand for an apology, he then declared him 'persona non grata' in a statement on the official Sporting website.

The move has only caused more annoyance at Old Trafford, with Queiroz challenging Franco to take his complaint to UEFA or FIFA in the belief any investigation will totally exonerate him.

Now Ferguson has waded into the row on Queiroz's behalf.

'It is unfortunate the president has said this and it is more unfortunate that he has chosen Carlos as his target,' said the United boss.

'Carlos is not in the field of doing these things. His behaviour is impeccable and I feel the president should retract his comments.

'We have a good relationship with Sporting Lisbon and we do not want it destroyed. But what the president has said is totally unfair.'

Queiroz had already confirmed United had no interest in signing Veloso, a view backed up by Ferguson.

'We are not interested in him and we never have been,' said the Scot.

'But our relationship with Sporting Lisbon has been very good for five years now. We approached them about Cristiano Ronaldo, we sat down and we did a deal. We did the same with Nani.

'Why should we bother about tapping a player we are not interested in?'

Despite the mildly embarrassing row, Queiroz is sure of his ground and is not expecting Franco to respond to his challenge to report the matter to football's governing bodies.

'The idea I am going around Europe signing trying to persuade players to sign for Manchester United is ridiculous,' he said.

'We have seven central midfield players already, so why we would want any more?

'The president's comments were not only insulting and a personal slur, they were factually incorrect and, despite people telling him so, he has refused to retract them.

'If he really believes what he is saying, he should tell UEFA or FIFA. Then they can look at it and prove what I am saying is right. Sadly, I don't think he will.

'It is not a very nice situation, given the history I have with Sporting, although the fact the relationship between them and United remains strong says quite a lot.'