Top five football failure excuses

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No other sport comes close to football when inspiring the litany of whinges, and sorry excuses for failure.

Sir Alex Ferguson is arguably the master vintner of sour grapes, when it comes to losing. But, over the years the Manchester United boss has delivered so much success to Old Trafford, that he can be forgiven for the odd faux pas.

Earlier this week, Rafa Benitez claimed the only thing that prevented Liverpool from winning the Premier League title under his stewardship, was the club's failure to sign Matthew Upson and Sylvain Distin. Really?

The Spaniard spent six years at Anfield, winning the FA Cup and Champions League during his time there, but recently expressed his dissatisfaction at the club's former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, for not backing his title challenge in his final season.

"Attempting to work in the transfer market that summer was almost impossible," Benitez explained in his new book, which is being serialised by the Daily Mirror. "We knew we would need cover and support for Fernando Torres, as David Ngog was still developing, and we had raised the cash to find it.

"The player we identified to fill that role was Stevan Jovetic, a young Montenegro forward playing for Fiorentina in Italy. The funds we thought we had available would also have stretched to another central defender, to provide cover for Jamie Carragher, Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger.

"The two players we had identified were Sylvain Distin, then with Portsmouth, and West Ham's Matthew Upson, both boasting abundant Premier League experience. Signing one of those two, plus the tall, powerful, intelligent Jovetic, would have given Liverpool the squad we needed to build on the previous year's title challenge, when we had run Manchester United so close.

"That was supposed to be our year, the season it all came together. Instead it was a long, hard campaign, a battle from start to finish."

Liverpool eventually finished seventh, and Benitez paid the price when he left by mutual consent that summer. Now he's decided to lift the lid, in an attempt to justify his former club failings. After the 52-year-old's bid to pass the buck, GiveMeFootball considers where his reasoning ranks amongst football's funniest excuses…

Grey day for Ferguson

The undisputed champion of feeble excuses, Sir Alex Ferguson's finest moment came at The Dell in 1996, when Manchester United were thumped 6-3 by Southampton. Trailing 3-0 at half-time, the visitors quite literally emerged a different team for the second 45 minutes, opting to change from their all grey kit, into a blue and white ensemble.

The Red Devils boss blamed the kit on the players' inability to pass to each other, but the transformation failed to make much impact, as they were defeated emphatically.

Friday Football

Another excuse involving Liverpool. In 1989 Arsenal travelled to Anfield needing a victory by at least a two-goal margin to win the old First Division title. After the Gunners achieved what Alan Hansen described as "the impossible", the Reds defender claimed it was only because the game was played on a Friday instead of the usual Saturday, completely ignoring the fact that the hosts had been very, very poor.

David James' PlayStation addiction

We've all heard about Michel Platini's fear of the beautiful game turning into 'playstation football', but he's never gone as far as to blame video games on a player's performance - unlike David James.

The king of flaps and dodgy decision-making, once attributed a series of errors during his Liverpool days to staying up late at night playing computer games. The unpredictable goalkeeper was always prone to the odd mistake, but after kicking the habit he went on to establish himself as England No.1.

Bouncy balls

Kenny Dalglish has a reputation for telling it like it is. But, during his time in charge of Newcastle United, his reaction to an embarrassing FA Cup defeat at the hands of Stevenage in 1998, was laughable. The only feasible evaluation of the shock result was that the "balls were too bouncy!"

Crazy frogs!

Ukraine proved against England that they are an emerging force on the international scene, after securing a well-earned 1-1 draw at Wembley last night. However, it wasn't so long ago that the country was being humiliated in a 4-0 defeat against Spain.

The thrashing prompted the Ukrainian players to blame their performance on their noisy amphibian neighbours who were loitering outside their hotel: "Because of the frogs' croaking we hardly got a wink of sleep," explained defender Vladislav Vashchuk. "We all agreed that we would take some sticks and go and hunt them."

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