Tue, Jan 05, 2010 - Page 18 News List

Angry Ferguson plans to wield axe after Leeds loss

AFP , MANCHESTER, ENGLAND

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson points at his watch during their FA Cup match against Leeds United in Manchester, England, on Sunday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Furious Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson threatened to wield the axe after his star-­studded side slumped to a shock FA Cup defeat against fallen giants Leeds.

United were beaten 1-0 by third-tier Leeds in the third round at Old Trafford on Sunday and Ferguson has pledged to shake things up when his team face Manchester City at Eastlands on Wednesday in the League Cup semi-finals.

“We have a semi-final on Wednesday and a lot of these players today won’t be playing. You have to view that performance in the right light. But we have to get ready for Wednesday now,” the United manager said. “I had the team in mind but there may be one or two changes now.”

Ferguson’s mood was not helped by the mystery surrounding his defender Nemanja Vidic who pulled out of the Leeds game after claiming he felt an injury during the warm-up. The United manager reacted angrily when asked about his experienced center-half.

“I couldn’t tell you what the situation is with Nemanja,” he said.

Ferguson was far more forthcoming when asked about the performance of his side after he had overseen his first FA Cup defeat against a team from a lower division, with Leeds, the third division leaders, winning thanks to striker Jermaine Beckford’s 19th-minute goal.

“I didn’t expect that,” Ferguson said. “The preparation was very good. I was shocked at the performance. We didn’t start right and Leeds did start right.”

He added: “It’s a disappointment. Human beings can always surprise you, but we didn’t expect that. I don’t think any of them [United players] can say they had a good day. Only Antonio Valencia when we got the ball to him but it took us about 10 minutes to do that.”

Ferguson also risks fresh disciplinary action by the Football Association with a bizarre blast at referee Chris Foy after his side’s shock loss. Ferguson complained that Foy “only” played five minutes injury-time at the end of his team’s stunning loss.

“The referee gave five minutes of injury-time. That is an insult to the game and to the players out there,” Ferguson said.

■BOND ISSUE

AFP, LONDON

Manchester United is considering a bond issue as part of the English Premier League champion’s efforts to control its £700 million (US$1.1 billion) debts, a report said yesterday.

Investment bank JPMorgan and Germany’s Deutsche Bank are advising the soccer club, champions for the last three years, on options to improve the club’s financial situation, the Financial Times said, quoting unnamed sources.

One option under consideration would be the issue of high-yield bonds, the newspaper said.

The Sunday Times reported that the cash raised would be used to pay back some of Manchester United’s existing debts.

The club owes about £700 million to banks, financial institutions and hedge funds, according to debt specialists quoted by the Sunday Times.

The club says the debt is not a problem because the annual interest on its various loans is covered by its operating profit, the Sunday Times said.

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