Later News Nov 17

Sheringham channels inner-Ferguson, blames ref for United’s loss to Liverpool in Battle of the Reds

He may have only played under Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United for four years (1997 – 2001), but it appears Teddy Sheringham still managed to pick up a trick or two from the wily Scotsman.


And it was Ferguson’s most famous trick – that of blaming the referee for a defeat – which was on display on Saturday night, as the United Masters team were beaten 1-0 by their Liverpool counterparts in the Battle of the Reds at the National Stadium.

Photo: (World Football Legend)


The winning goal, which was scored by ex-Reds forward John Durnin in the 23rd minute of the match, came about after Emile Heskey beat the offside trap before squaring the ball for Durnin to tap into an empty net.


Except if Sheringham had his way, the goal would not have stood, as he deemed Heskey to be offside in the lead-up to the goal.


“I thought it was a very even game between us and Liverpool, but one bad decision by the referee and linesman changed the whole game. You have to understand, I’m a bitter man,” Sheringham complained after the game.


Blaming the referee to deflect from their team’s performance? That’s right out of the ol’ Ferguson playbook.


Regardless, credit should be given to Heskey for his role in the goal, as he had to run his absolute hardest to get away from a retreating Wes Brown. Given that both players – who were already never known for their pace during their playing days – had put on quite a few pounds since they retired, their footrace genuinely provided one of the comedic moments of the night, with one fan remarking to FBS after the game that the scene reminded him of Peter Griffin (of Family Guy fame) chasing Homer Simpson.

Photo: World Football Legend


“We saw the replay in the stadium and both their faces looked so earnest,” Liverpool fan Chua Yong Chuan told FBS. “It was funny because in real time, their speed was actually quite slow. My friends and I joked that it was like Peter and Homer in a footrace. But we still appreciate them for giving their best even though we know they’re no longer physically in tip-top shape.”


And Heskey himself was pleased with having contributed to the win with an assist.


“It was obviously difficult playing in this weather and acclimatising, but I thought we did well, and we won, so no complaints,” said Heskey. “It doesn’t matter that I didn’t score, I got an assist and I’m happy with that. Goals are scored by individuals, but games are won by teams.”


There was one individual, however, who should have been angry with himself for not scoring.


Billed as arguably the biggest United name in the Battle of the Reds – but not the highest-profile ex-Red Devil in Singapore last evening. That honour went to David Beckham and his mee goreng exploits at Tekka food centre – Dimitar Berbatov was warmly greeted by the 8,000-strong fans at the national stadium, but was sadly, unable to delight them with a goal.


And it wasn’t as if the Bulgarian had no chances to do so either. 


Right from United’s first game against the ex-Singapore internationals, Berbatov had several gilt-edged chances to score, but – perhaps intimidated by Singapore’s custodians Rezal Hassan, and the imposing Lionel Lewis – contrived to put the ball anywhere but in the back of the net.


Berbatov’s nadir came in the 28th minute of the match against Singapore, when, just a mere two metres away from goal, he decided to do a body feint to try and trick Rezal and the onrushing defender.


Instead, all Berbatov succeeded in doing was a passable imitation of a body faint, as he fell on his back after completely air-kicking the ball, which rolled into the arms of the grateful – and presumably bemused – Rezal.


And in the game against Liverpool, Berbatov again had another golden opportunity to score, when he spun clear of his marker and made a lung-busting run from near the halfway line into the penalty box. When one-on-one with Liverpool custodian David James, Berbatov casually caressed the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper…and onto the post.


That sprint and shot proved to be the final meaningful action for Berbatov – a player who, even in the best of times, often had as much interest in running as VAR has in making the right decisions – as he volunteered to be subbed off four minutes later.


Nonetheless, while Berbatov was unable to score, United fan Jack Wee told FBS that he was just content to see the 38-year-old live in action.


“He was always one of my favourite players…he’s elegant and graceful on the ball, and you could see that today in some of his touches,” said Wee, 25. “But of course la, he looks a bit rusty. It’s a shame I didn’t get to see him score, but I’m happy to have seen him play at least. So no, I don’t blame him for us not winning tonight.”


Yes, of course Berbatov shouldn’t blamed. Because we all know who exactly to point the finger at for United’s defeat.


Sheringham made sure of that.