In the same way that Apprentice candidates have to call Alan Sugar "Lord Sugar", you're meant to call Alex Ferguson "Sir Alex", but he does little to deserve that respect. Manchester United, and Sir Alex in particular have a relationship with the press that's based on fear and loathing. He's scared of them and he hates them. Considering that the Reds just pocketed £60 million pounds via the Premier League from TV companies you'd think that they'd be better disposed towards the media, but not so.
Fergie thought he could ban a journalist from Associated Press who asked a non-injunction-busting question about Ryan Giggs at a press conference, where journalists are supposed to ask questions.
Rob Harris simply asked this: "The most experienced Champions League player in the team's obviously Ryan Giggs, it's the fourth final for him, how important for the team is he on Saturday?"
But for Fergie it was too much and he set about planning to ban Harris from the pre-match press conference on Friday. A press conference which is managed by Uefa and that United have no control over. I had been wondering how Giggs could have been so badly advised about managing the media recently, but if his boss behaves like this you can see where his influence may lie.
Football journalism is actually broken in this country. Newsrooms are scared of being denied access to clubs. They shy away from stories that show the clubs in less than glorious colours and don't ask difficult questions because they fear becoming persona non grata at the training ground or in the press box. I'd like to see a sports desk take the risk and if they're declined further access then tell it like it is and inform their audience what's gone in. In 2011 there have to be other ways of reporting football that don't depend on attending the regular press conferences anyway. I know it won't happen, but I'd love to see it.