Man Utd boss Ferguson ducks Di Canio controversy

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson refused to comment on the political storm around the appointment of Paolo di Canio at Sunderland.

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson refused to comment on the political storm around the appointment of Paolo di Canio at Sunderland.

Wisely, Ferguson skirted around the entire issue when quizzed about it this lunchtime.

"The only thing I am focusing on is how Sunderland are going to do in their next few games," he said. "It is a challenge for Paolo, there is no doubt about that, because their programme is not an easy one.

"It is not easy for any team trying to gather points at this stage of the season when you are down there scrapping for survival, no matter who they play or where they are playing."

Ferguson tried to make contact with Martin O'Neill following his dismissal on Sunday but has so far not managed to.

The United boss spent half an hour in O'Neill's company after his side's victory at the Stadium of Light on Saturday and gained no inkling owner Ellis Short was about the inflict the first sacking of the Irishman's impressive career.

"I have not had a chance to speak to Martin," said Ferguson. "I did try him on the phone the other day but he didn't answer. He was fine when he came into the room (on Saturday). He was very generous and gracious as he always is.

"You could sense he was disappointed. He was a little bit down. I was with him for 30 minutes or so and we had a small chat. He did get better but here was no indication anything was going to happen.

"I had no idea until Sunday evening, when I got the news."

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