Paper, Real chief Calderón hit back at 'senile' Ferguson

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Ramón Calderón believes that Sir Alex Ferguson's advanced years influenced his outburst against Real Madrid this week, while Marca plumbed to new depths by featuring the Manchester United as General Franco on its cover.

Los Merengues' president was responding to a strongly-worded interview by the fiery Scot in a recent issue of GQ magazine which was clearly influenced by the Spanish club's pursuit of Cristiano Ronaldo last season.

Ferguson used the one subject that he knew would rile Madrid and trod on ground where most Spaniards fear to tread by bringing up Madrid's strong links to the Franco regime.

"What made it really obscene was that Madrid, as General Franco's club, had a history of being able to get whoever and whatever they wanted, before democracy came to Spain," the manager said.

Marca was clearly unhappy as it appeared to use Ferguson's working-class background to explain why he had chosen to make a statement about Real's history.

On the front page of Thursday's edition, the Madrid-biased periodical had a five-picture mock up of Ferguson morphing into Franco above the headline "Ferguson Senile."

The paper stated inside that the United boss was saying things and doing things at Old Trafford that were influenced by his age and that his senility was ensuring that he said things like the recent interview.

Calderón recognized that he was not going to sign Ronaldo in the summer and is evidently not keen for the matter to resurface given the recent spate of criticism his presidency has attracted from Madrid fans.

"I'm not going to waste any time answering him, I admire his record, but he is getting old," he told Marca.