Former ref Dermot Gallagher opens up on Sir Alex Ferguson's influence of referees

Former referee Dermot Gallagher has lifted the lid on Sir Alex Ferguson's intimidation tactics.

And, with figures showing 'Fergie Time' has been slashed since the Scot's departure, the official has revealed the pressure referees were under during Manchester United home matches.

Gallagher recalls one particular episode when United were chasing the title in 1997 - which they duly won - and welcomed Middlesbrough to a sodden Old Trafford.
'It was chucking it down with rain and Fergie pulled me aside and said “do me a favour, call the game off’," Gallagher told Sportlobster TV.

'I asked why and he said “there’s nowhere else to fit this game in and the Premier League will have to extend the season. We’ll have a better chance of winning the match and we’ll win the league at Old Trafford”.

'At half time United were losing 3-1 and the pitch was like a swimming pool. As we came off he said “I know we’re 3-1 down but please call it off, we could do with a hand here”.

'They managed to pull it back to 3-3 and in the last minute Dennis Irwin ran into the box and went down in front of the Stretford End and I only gave a goal kick.

'At full-time Fergie sprinted across the pitch and shouted at me furiously. My wife said, “Fergie had a right go at you about that penalty didn’t he”.

'I told her he hadn’t mentioned the penalty. She asked why he came tearing across the pitch at me then. The truth is he ran over and asked me if I was going out to dinner that night. I said “no” and he asked “why are we leaving so early then?”.'
Indeed, Ferguson's ability to squeeze every last second out of officials when his side were losing has since been highlighted.

With United trailing at Old Trafford under their former boss, an average of 79 seconds extra was played in added time.

However, this compares to just 40 seconds extra under his successor David Moyes.

Gallagher went on to reveal the anxiety caused by not awarding key decisions to United.
'Years and years ago one of the referees had a heart monitor on during a match at Old Trafford,' he explained.

'They were assessing it and suddenly it jumped and went through the roof. They looked at the DVD and he’d just turned down a penalty in front of the Stretford End. The pressure is immense.'