Ferguson: I snubbed England approaches

Ferguson: I snubbed England approaches

Published Jul. 17, 2010 12:11 p.m. ET

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson claims he turned down the chance to manage England twice, describing the job as a "poisoned chalice."

He did not give details, but it is thought Ferguson was considered as a replacement for Terry Venables in 1996 and Glenn Hoddle three years later.

The 68-year-old, speaking as his side prepared to begin their North American tour, said: "I was offered the chance to manage the England team on a couple of occasions but, of course, it was just out of the question.

"It's a poisoned chalice anyway. I think it's a terrible job, plus the fact that I would have had a tremendous handicap being Scottish; no matter which way you look it, that's important."


Ferguson had plenty to say during this summer's World Cup as England limped out in the first knock-out round with several players, not least United's own Wayne Rooney, failing to perform.

And the United boss reiterated his belief fatigue played a huge role in their failure.

"The English season is exhausting," he said. "Look at December, for instance, when we play eight or nine games even though it's the worst time of the year for the pitches, when they are heavier and the weather is at its worst.

"In the second half of the season, you then find lots of players are carrying little strains and pulls. But because of the importance of the games they keep on playing and, when they get to the end of the season and there's an important tournament such as the World Cup, they are not 100%.

"They can't be because they need that rest factor to bring the energy back into their system."

Ferguson also believes Rooney, along with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Kaka, suffered from the huge expectations placed on their shoulders.

"It was the expectation," he said. "All the main players for whom the expectations were high had bad tournaments, including Messi and Ronaldo.

"At the outset, the expectation was built up that this was going to be Wayne's tournament, but don't forget that he doesn't have great experience of World Cup football.

"For many players, they only get one World Cup, but Wayne will have other opportunities and he will be much better with experience."

On Ronaldo, Ferguson added: "It's difficult to say why (he didn't perform). I spoke to the Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz after the tournament and he was as baffled as anyone."

However, Ferguson was impressed with the way referee Howard Webb handled the final, dismissing the criticism that came from the Dutch.

"He was given an impossible task with the behaviour of the players," Ferguson said. "I think it got to the stage in the first half that showing a red card would have put him under pressure, criticism-wise.

"A World Cup final, having a player sent off, it's not the done thing and you don't want to see that. The public doesn't want to see that, the spectators who have gone to the game don't want to see that, and he was left in that position.

"There was no way out for him. If he had sent a player off, he would have faced criticism. If he didn't send a player off, he would get criticism.

"I think at half time he realised that, and in the second half, his momentum got less and less."