Sir Alex Ferguson has hit out at suggestions that he used his reputation to sway referees during his career.
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Mark Halsey, who retired from refereeing at the end of the 2012-13 campaign, has, in his book Added Time, claimed to have had a good relationship with Ferguson in which he would contact the then-Manchester United manager.
Halsey’s comments have led to claims that Ferguson may have had undue influence during his reign at Old Trafford. Ferguson, though, has denied such suggestions, insisting any support he gave Halsey was down to the referee's battle with cancer.
“I can't believe ... obviously there is an Alex Ferguson element in his [Halsey's] book he thought was important,'' he told MUTV. “Most of the managers, particularly in the North-West, supported [him] -- and a lot of players by the way -- when he had the cancer, him and his wife. It was a terrible period for the lad and quite rightly the football fraternity got behind him and supported him.
“We gave him jersey after jersey for the dinners he was having and of course a Manchester United strip figures greatly in these auctions -- a signed strip from all the players.''
Ferguson, who fell out with numerous officials during his time with the Red Devils, added: “The laughable part for me was how I [supposedly] influenced the refereeing fraternity.
“This is a guy who has the worst record of any manager in the history of English football, fined £100,000 by them, suspended so many times. That's some influence, I must say. It's a little bit Walter Mitty [a reference to the short story about a fantasist].''
Although now retired, Ferguson still holds a director’s role at United and has been back at Old Trafford recently to watch his old side.
Ferguson said: “They won well against Palace. It was a difficult game because many teams come and park the bus. On Tuesday night [against Bayer Leverkusen] they were terrific.
“Wayne Rooney’s performance was fantastic -- I was pleased to see that. He's got his energy back. The determination, his purpose to attack players, was all very encouraging to me. Being a director I'm delighted to see that. He's back to what we always remember.''
Information from the Press Association was used in this report