Sir Alex Ferguson climbed in to the BBC the other day, justifying why he will never again speak to the Corporation.

Shame that in doing so, he was rather 'economical with the actualite'.

Ferguson pinpointed a BBC TV expose in 2004 as the reason why he will shun the Corporation for the rest of his life. He alleged that the programme fingered his son, Jason for abusing his father's position at Manchester United in his role as a football agent.

Ferguson said the expose hinted at brown envelopes and dodgy dealings and that he had to act through loyalty to his son and anger at serious distortions. It was a matter of integrity.

In his speech in Glasgow last week, Ferguson said the BBC was arrogant and refused to apologise for anything. He'd just read Alastair Campbell's Diaries in which the sultan of spin doctors had excoriated the Corporation, particularly over the events that led to the Hutton Report in 2004. Ferguson said he fully subscribed to Campbell's low opinion of the BBC.

Countless football supporters now believe that the reason why the finest manager in the country doesn't co-operate with the BBC is because of a TV programme in 2004.

That is untrue. For the best part of 15 years, he has been hostile. Time to step aside from the Ferguson version and examine a few facts . . .

In March, 1992 at Carrow Road, Norwich, he was abusive to this columnist because he was incensed at some recent opinions of several of the BBC's commentators and reporters.

United had just gone top of the league that night, he was under pressure to deliver the title and although he talked happily to every other media outlet, he was hectoring and boorish to this representative of the BBC. We had never met before.

Clearly Ferguson felt we should all be onside in his aim to bring the title back to Old Trafford after a 25-year absence. My complaint about Ferguson's behaviour got no further than the secretary of the club chairman, Martin Edwards.

In April 1993, also at Carrow Road, the Match of the Day live cameras caught Eric Cantona clearly kicking John Polston, the Norwich defender, on the head. The referee had missed it, but MOTD tackled the subject. Ferguson was outraged.

When the coverage was reported to him at the post-match press conference, Ferguson retorted that it was typical of the BBC, that the studio experts - Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson - and the editor of the programme - Brian Barwick - were all Liverpool fans and what could you expect from United's fiercest rivals?

No attempt to justify Cantona's brutality, just a smear tactic. Alastair Campbell would have approved.

In the 1990s, Roy Keane was sent off more than once playing for United. On one occasion, the mild-mannered John Motson brought the subject up afterwards in a style that was hardly that of Jeremy Paxman. Ferguson's foul-mouthed tirade at Motson was never shown.

Yet he was happy to use the BBC when it suited him. Like when one of his books needed valuable exposure. Ferguson on Radio FiveLive, and Campbell on BBC2 - both have profited from airtime.

In one week during August, 1999, twice a day from Monday to Friday, Ferguson appeared on Radio FiveLive, reading extracts from his autobiography. Richard Burton it was not - more Rab C.Nesbitt reading from See You, Jimmy - but the nation endured the thoughts of the Govan Bruiser. It seemed an interminable week.

Enlisting Alastair Campbell's opinion last week was typical of Ferguson. That's the Alastair Campbell who was involved in the push for an immediate knighthood for his friend because of two late goals inside three minutes in the Champions' League Final of 1999. The Alastair Campbell who enjoyed Ferguson's consistent support for New Labour at rallies during his time as Head of Propaganda. They have been close for more than a decade.

Given that Campbell enjoyed three hours of prime-time airtime on BBC2, when his Diaries were recently published, they both have succeeded in slagging off the BBC while profiting from the exposure provided.

Just one postscript from the 2004 programme that so enraged Ferguson. The central allegation was that he and his son Jason were involved in a conflict of interest, with the agent acting for players under his father's wing as manager at the same club. Earlier this year, the Stevens Report - set up to investigate possible corruption in English football - concluded that the type of cosy situation involving the Fergusons should be outlawed.

And, three years on from that programme, no writ has been served by the Fergusons on the BBC. Far easier just to sneer.

The allegation from Sir Alex about the BBC's arrogance and refusal to apologise is a touch rich when you consider that he is the only Premiership manager who refuses to talk to the press after a game.

Despite three years of entreaties from the League Managers' Association, he won't budge.

He'll talk to Sky Sports, though. That's the organisation who employed his son, Jason, as executive producer of the live matches in the early years of the Premiership. Before he became an agent, with his father's considerable support.

All this may appear too precious, dear reader. If so, apologies. I see it merely as a salutary corrective to Ferguson's rewriting of history. I'd much prefer to dwell on his wonderful career as one of the great British football managers.


Patience pays off for Barry

Those who have admired Gareth Barry's indomitable displays for Aston Villa for years won't be the slightest surprised at his outstanding display for England last week.

It's not parochial to state that there aren't enough English players in midfield with Barry's ability to play the ball long or short, to hold it when there are no obvious options, to play with his head up, rather than disappearing down cul-de-sacs.

Above all, Barry radiates calmness. Too much is made of pace as a virtue. It is not in the international arena. That is where patience and a deep awareness of your own game are paramount. If you give the ball away against the top international teams, you can spend five minutes hustling to get it back.

It's scandalous that Barry spent four years in the international wilderness as the 'galacticos' were indulged. He brings balance to the England midfield because of his prowess with his left foot and an instinctive awareness.

One of the big names from that midfield will now have to be sacrificed in favour of Gareth Barry. As a unit, they have been found wanting. When was that last said about Villa's impressive captain?