By Monitor

WHEN Sir Alex Ferguson was knighted by the Queen the award was described as being “for services to British football”. The services were not specified but managing England's most consistently successful side and showing the flag in European football were doubtless what those responsible for recommending honours to the Queen had in mind. But surely, more is required? Yet Sir Alex apparently does not think so. Twice in the last few months his actions and comments have fallen below the standard one might expect of a man in his position. His defence of Roy Keane's autobiographical admission that he had deliberately waited for the opportunity to foul a player he believed had gloated over him in an earlier game was disgraceful. Having read what Keane had written, Sir Alex said that he saw “nothing wrong in it.” At a time that Manchester United and its players are considered role models for aspiring young soccer enthusiasts all over the world, this was a dreadful example to set. Last week's events in the United's dressing room, when Sir Alex kicked a boot in anger which accidentally hit David Beckham above the eye were perhaps understandable in the heat of the moment after being beaten in the FA Cup at home. But Sir Alex's subsequent inability to make a public (or private?) apology and to describe the incident as ”an act of nature” suggests that his first inclination to retire three years ago was the right one and should now be implemented.