Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has turned up the heat ahead of his side’s Champions League showdown with Real Madrid.

Ferguson criticised the Spanish champions after recent reports linking them with midfielder David Beckham.

“I think we expected something like this,’ responded Ferguson when asked about reports linking David Beckham with a move to the Bernabeu.

“They did it three years ago when they targeted Beckham and Giggs for personal attacks. I don’t know where that story came from.

“I just wonder about the timing of the stories about them being interested in Beckham. They came just after the draw was made and I have to think there is a bit of mischief going on.

“Real Madrid are not without faults,’ he added. ‘I don’t think they are short of trying anything.”

Meanwhile, Real rebuked Ferguson after he suggested defender Roberto Carlos should be banned for the gamefollowing his dismissal for Brazil last week. The holders were also bemused by Ferguson’s suggestion that the draw had been rigged – an allegation which has since earned the United boss a UEFA misconduct charge.

Team chief Jorge Valdano suggested that Ferguson had “cracked”.

And Real manager Vicente del Bosque added: “I can hardly believe these attacks. Until now, Ferugson seemed a real man and above all this.

“Our clubs have a great relationship, which is why I’m so dismayed at what has been said.”