Is Manchester United’s media blackout a good thing?

It's just white noise coming out of Old Trafford at the momentManchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson refused to speak to the media following the 3-1 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield yesterday. The decision comes after Ferguson cancelled his pre-match briefing on Friday in protest of the media reaction to his remarks about referee Martin Atkinson which came after last week’s 2-1 defeat against Chelsea.

Ferguson not only declined to talk to host broadcaster Sky Sports and radio rights holders TalkSport but even MUTV, the club’s own television channel. In addition, assistant manager Mike Phelan didn’t do his normal post match interview with the BBC. However, it is believed that the decision to blank the media was made before the game and was not a response to Manchester United’s embarrassing defeat to arch rivals Liverpool.

What remains in question is how long this media blackout will last for. It may all depend on whether Ferguson’s appeal against the FA’s charge of improper conduct is successful. Ferguson received the charge after his midweek comments about Martin Atkinson and if it isn’t overturned, then it would trigger his suspended two-match touchline ban for questioning the fitness of referee Alan Wiley last season. In addition, he could receive a one match ban for his comments about Atkinson and a further one match ban for challenging the charge if his appeal is regarded as ‘frivolous.’

After numerous decisions went against United in their game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, United arguably had another one go against them in yesterday’s encounter. Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher was lucky not to get sent off after a lunge at Nani which resulted in the Portuguese star being stretchered off after receiving a two inch gash to his shin. The decision not to dismiss Carragher enraged David Gill and resulted in the Manchester United chief executive having a heated exchange with referee chief Mike Riley at half time. It appears that at the moment, Manchester United feel that key decisions in the big games are going against them; quite ironic when you consider that most other clubs believe that referees treat United ‘favourably.’

It is no secret that the Red Devils are not in good form. At the start of February, we were pondering whether Ferguson’s men could go unbeaten for the whole season. However a run of three defeats in their past five league games has now left people questioning whether they can win the title. Following their slump, the title race has heated up with Arsenal closing the gap to just three points and with a game in hand. While the media blackout may work as a form of protest, one thing that it certainly won’t do is cover up bad performances and poor form.

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