Sir Alex Ferguson: We would have beaten Barcelona if I had put Park Ji-Sung on Lionel Messi.


Sir Alex Ferguson has spoken to SPORTbible about his disappointment at not using Park Ji-sung to man-mark Lionel Messi in the Champions League final, which he feels cost Manchester United the title.

Gary Neville put the questions to Sir Alex Ferguson, and he answered them all, from the recent players he’d like to have coached to career advice he once gave Jurgen Klopp.

When asked who he thought were the three most overlooked players he’d ever played with, Fergie immediately identified Park as one of the three. The manager’s go-to player for basic man-marking work, according to Neville, was always the South Korean midfielder, which elicited an interesting response from the boss.

“That’s where I lost the final against Barcelona at Wembley,” said Sir Alex, claiming a tactical delay cost his side in 2011.

“I should have changed at half-time and put Ji-sung Park on Messi. That was a mistake… I was going to do it at half-time, then I said, ‘Well, we just equalised before half-time, they may see the game differently, we may grow into the game better.’

“We were actually quite good in the last 10 minutes of that half. We came into it and we could have been in front.

“But if I’d played Ji-sung Park against Messi, I think we’d have beat them. I really do.”

Instead, facing Wayne Rooney’s brilliant first-half equaliser, Barcelona won 3-1 thanks to Messi’s goal nine minutes after halftime. But it says a lot about Ferguson’s competitive drive that the two-time Champions League winner is always debating what should have been done better in the occasional major games that don’t go his way.

Throughout his SPORTbible interview, which you can watch in full here, the great man (Fergie, not Neville) was in fine shape.

The 79-year-old ruffled Neville’s feathers by dodging a teenage Cristiano Ronaldo while Man United faced Sporting CP (we hope he’s apologised to John O’Shea) and calling one Arsenal legend “the fool” (though he claims he’s a sweet boy).

Sir Alex also asked Neville to list the 17 foreign strikers who played for Manchester United during his time there at one stage. Ferguson’s hairdryer, we’re pretty sure, is still in his bag somewhere.