Why Fergie's 'typical Germans' rant was just a smokescreen to highlight United's own inadequacies
After watching Sir Alex Ferguson’s antics at Aintree I was tempted to say that Scotsmen just can’t dance.
But I didn’t want to be accused of pandering to a tired racial stereotype.
Not that it stopped Ferguson himself doing his bit for Scottish-German relations on Wednesday night when he seemed to blame Manchester United’s Champions League demise at the hands of Bayern Munich on an entire nation of serial cheats.
“Typical Germans,” raged Ferguson, completely missing the point that it was Frenchman Franck Ribery who led the delegation of Bayern players demanding that referee Nicola Rizzoli showed Rafael a red card.
But in an unintentional way, he was right. It was typical of a German team to somehow find a way of winning just when you think you’ve got them by the short and curlies.
As national traits go it’s a rather admirable one.
And after 42 minutes on Wednesday night, with United 3-0 up on the night and 4-2 to the good on aggregate, no-one gave Bayern a hope in hell.
We should have known better, of course.
And Ferguson’s post-match insult to the German nation can only be explained away by pure frustration and a realisation that, deep down, the defeat only highlighted his team’s own inadequacies.
Gary Neville’s torment, at the hands of Ribery in the first leg and then when he faced Chelsea’s Florent Malouda on Saturday forced him to pick Rafael.
The Brazilian is young and gifted, but too often this season he has been exposed as naïve and petulant. He was an accident waiting to happen.
In central defence Rio Ferdinand found that with his speed on the wane, he was too easily troubled by Ivica Olic, a centre-forward who makes up for his lack of skill by running his markers into the ground.
A bit further forward, Michael Carrick again lacked the necessary belief to dominate the midfield battle and was at fault for both of Bayern’s goals.
And then there was the decision to play Wayne Rooney, a gamble Ferguson was willing to take despite the striker nursing an injured ankle because deep down he just doesn’t trust Dimitar Berbatov.
Rooney is one of the best players in the world – but not when he’s 50% fit.
Ferguson has used stats all season to claim that Berbatov covers more ground than any other United player over the course of 90 minutes.
But he still thought a half-fit Rooney would be a better bet to keep Bayern’s back-four busy than a £30.75million striker who hardly got a touch when he was asked to save the day in the 80th minute.
It was a surprise that Ferguson didn’t make his true feelings for the Bulgarian even clearer by sending on Frederico Macheda instead.
At least Fergie had something to cheer him up on Thursday when his horse What a Friend romped home on the first day of the Grand National meeting.
There used to be a time after big disappointments when the United boss would take to his bed and hide from the world.
Despite his outburst about ze Germans, perhaps defeats don’t hurt him quite like they used to.