Sir Alex Ferguson has apologised for comments he made about Newcastle United, insisting he never intended to insult the Tyneside club or its supporters.

Sir Alex Ferguson

The 71-year-old Scot referred to Alan Pardew's side as a "wee club in the North East" following the Premier League Boxing Day match between Manchester United and Newcastle. The game, played at Old Trafford, finished 4-3 to the hosts and several controversial moments during the match, such as Ferguson's verbal altercation with referee Mike Dean, caused some animosity between the two managers.

"I was demonstrative but I was not out of order," Ferguson said, according to The Sun, after further verbal spats with Pardew. "Everyone knows that. I am an emotional guy. But I was not abusive."

However, Ferguson now seems keen to clear the air over that comment and the entire incident.

"I want to clear up any misunderstanding that may have arisen over what I said. I have nothing but the highest regard for Newcastle fans and I always have had. They are up there with the best supporters in the game. Their passion, commitment and fervour have never wavered, even though they have had little to celebrate," the United manager explained.

Ferguson also clarified he was referring only to the lack of trophies in the club's recent history.

"Sadly, results have not matched their loyalty. If Newcastle's achievements had matched the support of the people who pay to watch them play, the club would be among the game's giants. It's tragic that they haven't been able to win a league title for over 80 years," he added.

United have beaten the Magpies on three occasions so far this season - twice in the league and also in the third round of the Capital One Cup. The Old Trafford club lead the Premier League with 52 points from 21 games, while Newcastle are 15th with only 20 points from 21 games.