Sir Alex had been pointing to his watch during the second half last weekend, something that obviously did not go unnoticed by the TV commentary team.
It was joked, not for the first time, that the most successful British manager in history would be immortalised forever in that pose when his statue is officially unveiled outside Old Trafford next week.
Of course, this was said in jest but it was later followed by the fourth official signalling five minutes of injury time when the clock ticked to 90. Five minutes! Where has all that time come from? Yet there was not a murmur of comment. United had already completed a marvellous comeback from 2-0 down so this revelation inevitably passed without judgment. Aston Villa were given plenty of opportunity to snatch a point but it's only 'Fergie time' when the Reds are chasing a late goal.
Every United fan knows this whole charade dates back to when the referee was injured during the win against Sheffield Wednesday in 1993. Steve Bruce equalised on 86 minutes and then headed the winner some 10 minutes later in the time added on to allow for the change in official. It might be worth noting the record amount is almost 13 minutes and was played when Manchester City, a side who famously won the league in 'Fergie time' as their fans rejoice, faced Swansea recently.
So the conspiracy theory goes that referees play on until United score. Hence, any valid criticism of time-wasting and justifiable allowance of added time as compensation fuels this myth. Referee Kevin Friend noted Brad Guzan stalling at goal kicks and everybody at Villa Park was aware of this. Incidentally, what was the point of the rule that allows keepers to change which side of the goal they restart the game from?
It's a natural thing to do for a team that is leading and the Reds are well used to it - anybody wanting a lesson in how to squeeze the life out of a second half would be well served watching a re-run of the goalless draw in Galatasaray in 1993. It's funny that this blatant gamesmanship doesn't endure in the media like the 'Fergie time' myth. Even a