Sir Alex Ferguson was in ‘no state’ to talk to the referee or media after a controversial sending off saw Manchester United crash out of the Champions League against Real Madrid.
A Sergio Ramos own-goal put United ahead after the break but, after Luis Nani was dismissed, Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo strikes saw Jose Mourinho’s side through.
“The manager is not in a state to talk to the referee about the decision,” said assistant manager Mike Phelan. “I think it speaks volumes I am here speaking now and not the manager of this fantastic football club.
“The decision seemed very harsh, possibly incredible at that moment in the game, I think it spoilt the game, we have to move on.
“I have said it before – to play Real Madrid on a magnificent occasion, with a massive audience around the world and everyone will be sitting wondering what has happened.
“A great performance was marred by one decision.”
United broke the deadlock early in the second half as Ramos turned Nani’s driven cross into his own net from six-yards out.
But less than ten minutes later the Portuguese winger was given a controversial straight red card as he appeared to accidentally catch Alvaro Arbeloa with a high boot.
“We felt we had the tactics right, we were comfortable at 0-0 in the first half. We came out and scored a goal which put us in a commanding position,” added Phelan.
“After that we were in reasonable control and created a couple of chances, but then the game totally changed. The decision was amazing but we had to carry on.
“Playing Madrid with 10 men is very difficult and we feel disappointed we needed with 10 men.”
Former Tottenham Hotspur man Modric then pulled the Spanish giants level, curling an effort from outside the area in-off David De Gea’s post just after the hour mark.
And before United had a chance to re-group, former Old Trafford fans favourite Ronaldo had put the visitors ahead, tapping home Gonzalo HIguain’s cross-cum-shot from a yard out.
The loss dashes dreams of a treble-winning season for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, but Phelan praised his boss’ tactics – after he left Wayne Rooney on the bench – and the performance of landmark veteran Ryan Giggs.
“The decision was tactical, regarding Wayne Rooney and Shinji Kagawa. In that dressing room everyone was prepared to play and everyone was fit,” he explained.
“This evening everybody has saw Ryan Giggs make 1000 appearances for this football club, which is magnificent.”
Picture courtesy of ITV, via ITV Player, with thanks.