Fergie Time was my little trick at Manchester United, admits Sir Alex

The 72-year-old says that his tactic of standing on the touchline and gesturing towards his watch was a ploy in order to influence the referee and his side’s opponents

Fergie Time was my little trick at Manchester United, admits Sir Alex

Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted that ‘Fergie Time’ was a “little trick” he used when Manchester United were searching for a goal in the closing stages of a game.

Ferguson, who won 38 trophies during his 26-year reign at Old Trafford, says that his tactic of standing on the touchline looking at his watch was a ploy in order to get into the minds of the officials and his side’s opponents.

Speaking to Clare Balding for a BT Sport Christmas Day Special, ‘Clare Balding Meets’, Ferguson explained: “That’s why I used to go to my watch. I never looked at my watch, I didn’t know how many minutes.

“It gets across to the opponents and the referee, which is a little trick. The thing about the last 10-15 minutes of a game, particularly at Old Trafford, you’ve got 65,000 people there.

“At half-time I always stress: don’t panic, be patient, wait. In the last 15 minutes you can do what you like. I’m a gambler, shove bodies up front, take the gamble … it didn’t always work but a lot of times it did.

“If you’re in that dressing room after the game and we’ve scored in the last minute, the electricity is unbelievable, they’re jumping on top of each other, hand-clapping, it’s a fantastic place to be.

“Most important thing is that those fans are walking out of the stadium desperate to get down to the pub to talk about, desperate to get home to tell their wife and their kids what happened at Old Trafford in the last minute of the game. And that’s my job, to get them home happy.”

Sir Alex Ferguson was speaking to Clare Balding as part of a BT Sport Christmas Day double-bill of ‘Clare Balding Meets’ which features exclusive interviews with Sir Alex and Jose Mourinho.

Watch the full interviews on BT Sport 1 from 3.30pm on December 25

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David Villa: Lionel Messi is the greatest of all time

The New York City FC forward has backed his former team-mate – and Barcelona’s new boss Luis Enrique – to silence the doubters

David Villa: Lionel Messi is the greatest of all time

Former Barcelona striker David Villa believes Lionel Messi will be remembered as the greatest player of all time and that boss Luis Enrique will succeed because he understands how the “complicated” club works.

Villa is holidaying back in Spain ahead of the 2015 MLS season, where he will play for New York City FC. He spoke at an Audi event in Gijon and was asked about his former club’s season and the form of Messi, who is on the three-man shortlist for the FIFA Ballon d’Or, which will be awarded on January 12.

Villa insisted that the Argentine remains the greatest player of all time, even if Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid is favourite for the award.

“I’ve spoken about [Messi] for a long time and I will continue to speak about him,” Villa said. “For me, the best player in the world is Lionel Messi, whether he scores the most goals or not, because I have never seen anyone do what he does on the football pitch. I think he is the best in history because he is so unique and I’ve not seen anyone that can equal him.

“As for the (Ballon d’Or) criteria, I’m not really sure how it works. Sometimes it’s a World Cup year, sometimes it isn’t. Let them vote. For me, there is no doubt as to who is the best, year after year.”

Messi, who led Argentina to the World Cup final, is widely expected to miss out to Ronaldo in January’s Ballon d’Or. In part that could be attributed to the fact that Barcelona have not won a major trophy since the 2012-13 Liga title, while Real Madrid have claimed the Champions League and Copa del Rey.

Former Barca player Luis Enrique was appointed coach this summer and, while he has endured a mixed start to life in the Camp Nou dugout, Villa feels his fellow Asturian will prove successful.

“He is ready for this, definitely, totally, because of everything he learned as a player, everything he knows about his club, and everything he has learned as a coach afterwards,” he added.

“It’s a complicated club, because the big clubs and their coaches are studied every day. But the people at Barcelona love him, he loves Barca, he has what it takes to be a coach, he has the players on the pitch and, at the end, I am sure he will have a great year.”

VIDEO: Ronaldo snubs Platini at Club World Cup presentation

The Portugal star remains on frosty terms with the Uefa president following his remarks on the Ballon d’Or earlier this year

VIDEO: Ronaldo snubs Platini at Club World Cup presentation

Cristiano Ronaldo remains less than impressed with Michel Platini’s comments on the Ballon d’Or if Saturday’s scenes in Marrakech are anything to go by.

The Uefa president incensed Real Madrid in October when he went public with his views on why the Portugal star should not retain his individual prize in January.

“I don’t vote for the Ballon d’Or but, in principle, [in a World Cup year] it’s a player who has produced big performances in the tournament who wins it,” he told beIn Sports. “So, it should be a German this year.”

Despite going on to describe Ronaldo as one of the world’s finest players, the Madrid star is clearly still rankled by Platini’s comments.

Having earlier shaken hands with Fifa chief Sepp Blatter – with whom Ronaldo became embroiled in a war of words during the Ballon d’Or race last year – the 29-year-old can be seen giving Platini the cold shoulder during the presentation ceremony after the Club World Cup final.

Madrid were crowned world champions after a 2-0 win, while Ronaldo picked up the Silver Ball for his performances during the tournament, with team-mate Sergio Ramos winning the individual prize ahead of him.

Watch video here:http: //www.goal.com/en-ng/news/4104/video/2014/12/21/7275222/video-ronaldo-snubs-platini-at-club-world-cup-presentation?ICID=AR_PN_1

Arsenal epitomise lack of class outside of Chelsea & Manchester City in this year’s Premier League

The Gunners were again poor in their 2-2 draw away at Liverpool on Sunday and will be lucky to qualify for next season’s Champions League

Arsenal epitomise lack of class outside of Chelsea & Manchester City in this year's Premier League

HAVE WE BEEN HERE BEFORE? ARSENAL DON’T DESERVE TOP FOUR

In the world of Arsene Wenger, there is a separate trophy that exists only for Arsenal and is awarded to the club every year when they sneak into the top four and book their place in the Champions League.

The Gunners have qualified for Europe’s elite competition for the last 17 seasons but extending that record to 18 is in grave doubt this season.

It would be a damning indictment of the quality of the Premier League if this Arsenal team finish in the top four given the dross they have served up in their first 17 matches.

Wenger’s side are lucky that they are somehow sixth in the table, just four points behind fourth-placed West Ham – and their performance in Sunday’s 2-2 draw away at Liverpool was just the latest example of their mediocrity.

Wenger played his get out jail card to escape from Anfield with a point after a game in which his players struggled to string more than a handful of passes together.

Their 36.5 per cent possession was their worst since such data became available in 2003 and more ruthless opposition would have been out of sight by half-time in the same manner that Stoke went 3-0 up in the first half of their previous away game.

They barely looked like scoring but somehow managed to find the net with their only two efforts of note against a goalkeeper that has hardly managed to make a save since being brought into the Liverpool team.

If Arsenal manage to finish in the top four this season, it would be by default.

They are fortunate that Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton have suffered equally this season in a division where Chelsea and Manchester City are so far ahead of the chasing pack it feels like the domination of the big two clubs in Spain.

In one two-minute passage on Sunday, I counted four unforced errors from Arsenal players. Even Alexis Sanchez appeared to catch the bug, and he has been the one shining light in north London this season. Lord knows where they would be without him.

Arsenal were totally lacking in confidence and tactical nous on the ball, and that’s supposed to be their strength.

The defensive frailty and mental weakness we all expect from Arsenal was there too, of course. It cost them the late equaliser when Martin Skrtel was allowed to power home his header despite the Gunners’ man advantage following Fabio Borini’s red card.

Throwing away leads has been a common theme for Wenger’s men this season, whether against better teams like Manchester City and Liverpool, or supposedly weaker opposition such as Swansea and Anderlecht.

Wenger really should have stepped down on a high after the FA Cup final victory over Hull in May. We know that now. Fans are fighting in the away end, split over the manager, controversial banners are being created and angry supporters are becoming minor internet celebrities.

“The first trophy is to finish in the top four,” Wenger famously said in 2012 in a succinct appraisal of the club’s ambitions.

But even that could be beyond Arsenal this year, particularly if their injury problems don’t subside and we keep seeing the likes of Mathieu Debuchy or Nacho Monreal playing at centre-back.

For all Manchester United’s problems – and they still have plenty – Louis van Gaal’s side have nestled in third and have no excuses not to return to the Champions League given their extravagant spending to get there.

But where is the serious challenge to Arsenal’s fourth-placed trophy ambitions?

Liverpool and Everton currently sit 10th and 11th and Brendan Rodgers, last season’s manager of the year, has found himself fending off questions over how much longer he can keep his job.

Tottenham’s wastefulness in the transfer market has been exposed and Mauricio Pochettino’s men have been booed off the pitch several times already after disappointing displays that leave them seventh in the table.

So could West Ham and Southampton be genuine challengers?

It’s not that they are particularly good, but the opportunity has opened up for them and the Hammers in particular have developed some impressive momentum.

If Arsenal book an 18th season in a row in the Champions League this term, it will in no way represent an achievement. It would simply show how bad the rest of the league has been.

For there is no trophy for the Gunners, only inertia.

Bale: We’ve shown we’re the best team in the world

The Welshman was on target in his third final of 2014 as Real Madrid claimed the Club World Cup in Morocco

Bale: We've shown we're the best team in the world

Gareth Bale hailed Real Madrid as the best team on the planet after the Welshman’s goal helped them seal Club World Cup glory against San Lorenzo in Marrakech.

Bale struck in the second half to double Real’s lead after Sergio Ramos had opened the scoring against the reigning South American champions.

It crowned an incredible year for Carlo Ancelotti’s side, who helped themselves to four titles in all – the Copa del Rey, the Champions League, the European Super Cup and now the Club World Cup.

“For us it’s a massive tournament to win and to show we’re the best team in the world is amazing,” Bale told Goal.

“It’s been a great year all round. Winning the Champions League, winning the Super Cup, winning the Copa del Rey and now this, it’s been a great year and hopefully there’s more to come.”

Real are on course to reign supreme in La Liga this season, currently holding a one-point advantage over Barcelona having played one game fewer.

They are also favourites to win the Champions League when the competition resumes in February, with Schalke lying in wait in the last 16.

“We need to keep concentrating on each and every game and hopefully we’ll achieve what we know we can,” Bale added.

Pellegrini: Chelsea could fall away like Arsenal

The Gunners suffered a dramatic dip in form in 2013-14, eventually finishing fourth, and the Manchester City boss has warned the Blues that the title is not decided in December

Pellegrini: Chelsea could fall away like Arsenal

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has questioned Chelsea‘s ability to maintain their title challenge and has suggested their form could collapse as quickly as Arsenal’s did last season.

The Gunners led the Premier League for over 120 days in 2013-14 but ultimately finished fourth, 16 points behind City, following a dramatic dip in form in the second half of the season.

And, having cut Chelsea’s lead at the top of the table from eight points to three in recent weeks, Pellegrini has suggested that the Blues could fall away in the same manner as Arsene Wenger’s men.

“I think Arsenal last season had a very similar number of points as Chelsea have now. So we’ll see what happens in the second half of the season and how many points you need to win,” the Chilean told reporters.

“Maybe Arsenal last season couldn’t do it in the second half, but we don’t know what Chelsea will do this year. I think that we must try and think about our team and not the others.

“We always believed that we could make up the points, because we had so many games to play.

“You never win a title in December. Maybe you can be the best team and winning all the games, but you don’t know what will happen in the second half of the season.

“So we have a lot of points to fight for. Our team always continues trusting in the way we play and the things we do.

“You maybe remember last season, when we had just five games left and knew that we had to win them? We did it. I don’t know what psychological impact it has on other teams, but in our team we always fight to the end and are never beaten until mathematics say you cannot win.”

Ramos beats Ronaldo to Club World Cup Golden Ball

The Real Madrid defender was named the tournament’s best player on Saturday, ahead of his team-mate and Auckland City captain Ivan Vucelich

Ramos beats Ronaldo to Club World Cup Golden Ball

Sergio Ramos has been awarded the Golden Ball for the best player at the Club World Cup, beating team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Spain international scored his second goal of the tournament with a towering header on Saturday against San Lorenzo as Real Madrid recorded a 2-0 win in the final in Marrakech.

Ramos’s performances were good enough to see him named as the tournament’s best player after the match, with Ronaldo finishing in second place. Auckland City captain Ivan Vucelich was handed the Bronze Ball; after guiding his side to a stunning victory in the third-place play-off.

Ramos, who admitted afterwards that the muscular problem he picked up in the semi-final against Cruz Azul meant he should not really have played, was delighted to see his side round off 2014 with another trophy.

“It’s true, I risked my injury playing today, but I wanted to play this match,” said the 28-year-old afterwards.

“This Club World Cup was hard to win for Real Madrid and we are so happy right now.

“I’m so proud to have helped with those goals, but this is a success for the whole squad.”