Ferguson asked to cut England talk

Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson

First published in National Sport News © by

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has been told to stop talking about the vacant England manager's job by the Premier League.

The Scot has already stated his backing for Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp for the role of Fabio Capello's permanent successor. Last week, Ferguson even suggested the meeting between United and Spurs at White Hart Lane would be the final time he encountered his old friend in league combat.

But when asked to speak about the situation following Thursday night's 3-2 Europa League defeat by Athletic Bilbao at Old Trafford, Ferguson said: "The Premier League has written to me asking me not to talk about the England manager's job. I don't know why."

It shows the lengths the authorities are going to in their bid to restrict debate over an issue that many feel the Football Association are taking too long over anyway, considering they are willing to wait until the last weeks of the season before confirming who will lead England into Euro 2012.

Ferguson's statement did not quite obscure another disappointing home European performance from United.

Last season's Champions League finalists have won just one of five European games at Old Trafford this term and have a combination of Wayne Rooney's late penalty and a succession of excellent saves from David de Gea to thank for the fact they will go to Spain for next week's second leg still with some home of progression.

"There's no doubt they were the better team," Ferguson said. "It's an uphill fight for us. The question is, can we win the match over there? I think we can."

Ferguson conceded United had started to find it difficult combining Thursday nights in the Europa League with Sunday matches, although his side's Barclays Premier League performances have been impressive.

Now, though, with his side on the brink of elimination, Ferguson is reassessing how best to cope, which may include resting Rio Ferdinand from the West Brom game this weekend.

"I am going to need to assess our games because we're maybe finding it difficult to marry the two competitions together," the Red Devils boss said. "I think we can win the game okay but to marry these two together successfully I think you need the full squad."

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