Ferguson Sparks Cup Security Alert; Exclusive.
Byline: Mark Ogden
Preston North End are to increase security at Monday's FA Cup tie against Manchester United over fears that home supporters might confront Sir Alex Ferguson.
United informed Preston yesterday that Ferguson plans to visit Deepdale for the first time since sparking a bitter row with the club.
The former United manager, now a director and club ambassador, will be part of the official delegation from Old Trafford at the game - United's first competitive fixture at Deepdale since 1972. But senior figures at the League One club are to ensure that extra security is provided for Ferguson to prevent disgruntled home fans challenging the Scot as a result of bad blood stemming from the dismissal of his son Darren as Preston manager in December 2010.
Ferguson junior was sacked by Preston, then bottom of the Championship, after guiding the team to just 13 wins from 49 games. Ferguson senior, then in charge of United, angered Preston by immediately recalling two players, Ritchie de Laet and Josh King, from loan spells at Deepdale. Ferguson also made moves to curtail a similar loan move involving United's England Under-20 mid-fielder, Matty James.
Preston were subsequently relegated from the second tier at the end of the 2010-11 season and have yet to regain Championship status.
With Monday's fixture deemed a Category C game by Lancashire Police - a rating set aside for only the most high-profile fixtures - Preston's security team had already liaised closely with the authorities in making plans for the tie. But Ferguson's presence has led to the club stepping up measures in and around the directors' box and the main reception area. David Moyes, whose reign as Ferguson's successor as manager at United ended with the sack after less than 12 months in charge, will also be at Deepdale, where he began his managerial career, as a television pundit for the game.
Meanwhile, United's current manager, Louis van Gaal, has rejected claims by Paul Scholes that his team have developed a "miserable" style since he took over by insisting the former Old Trafford midfielder's comments are "not so interesting".
United were described as a longball team by West Ham manager Sam Allardyce following last Sunday's 1-1 draw and their unconvincing display during Wednesday's 3-1 victory over Leicester prompted Scholes's outburst.
Van Gaal said of Scholes's criticism: "I don't worry about it. It's not so interesting I think. Paul Scholes is one of the fans, I hope. Fans can criticise, that is not a problem."