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Lehmann My view of the Battle of the Buffet

Sir Alex Ferguson

In October 2004, Manchester United ended our hopes of making it to 50 games unbeaten on a controversial afternoon at Old Trafford.

Tensions spilt over into the tunnel at Old Trafford after the final whistle, resulting in reports that Sir Alex Ferguson was struck by a slice of pizza. 
 
Speaking exclusively to our 'In Lockdown' podcast, Jens Lehmann gave his account of the match and post-match fireworks in the tunnel. 

 
"It was so obvious that Wayne Rooney went for a dive," he said. "It was a little bit disappointing for myself. I wanted to go to the corner where Ruud van Nistelrooy put the penalty, but Patrick [Vieira] came to me and said, 'You know where he's going.' 
 
"So I said, 'Okay, I'll go to the [other] corner' and obviously he scored. I should have gone with my first thought, then it probably would have been a draw. 
 
"The year before, it was the same [controversy]. I thought, 'Oh, every time it's the same here. It belongs to the aftermath of the game that managers stand in front of each other and try to punch each other.' The year before they were already having a fight, this year was ‘Pizzagate’. 
 
"I mean a young player came into our dressing room and was hungry. He'd probably taken too much pizza and instead of eating it, he had thrown it on to Alex Ferguson's... where was it? Chin? Forehead? I think it was half neck, half shoulder. 
 
"I wasn't really involved. The only thing I did… I was quite late and I saw the bunch of players in front of me, the two managers standing, confronting each other. I was spilling water from behind on to the whole crowd. It was like petrol onto a fire.
 
“I inflamed the situation a little bit but without getting involved. I saw security guys there, our players, the managers, it was just an accusation of betrayal and whatever, because of the penalty. Again, a penalty."

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O'Leary George took no prisoners with me

George Graham

David O'Leary spent seven years under George Graham and won six major trophies. 

But when our record appearance-maker was approaching the end of his 20-year career at the club in 1993, he says our former manager pulled no punches.
 
"George was a great manager, but he didn't take any prisoners," O'Leary told our 'In Lockdown' podcast. "His attitude was, 'Yeah, you've done 20 great years at Arsenal but there's no sympathy here, it's time to move on. We believe that you've done your time for us.' That was his attitude.

"George had no sympathy, [he wasn't] thinking, 'We'll give you another year or two years.' Do I think I could have done more? Yes. Was I a bit disappointed that I wasn't offered another contract? Yes, because I think I could have still played a role. Not to play as many games maybe, but to help out with the reserves, to be there fit and ready if the club needed me.
 
"I didn't want the sympathy vote or to get another years contract because I'd done 20 at the club. George wasn't that type. I wouldn't have wanted it that way. 
 
"The last game, Wembley, it's a brilliant place if you win and I remember that Manchester United game, the way we won there. The ending and the whole lot. When I came down the steps that night and walked around... when you win it's great to share it with your fans because you know how much it means to them as well. 
 
"It hit me all of a sudden that in about 100 yards time I'd be going down that tunnel, taking that jersey off and it would be for the last time. So it was a very mixed emotion that hit me going around the stadium afterwards. 
 
"I was saying, 'David in a couple of minutes time you're going to be back in that dressing room and that jersey is going to come off. You've been putting that jersey on for this great club for 20 years and you're not going to be able to put it on any longer.' I had mixed emotions in the dressing room about that."

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