Ed Miliband faced a barrage of online mockery this morning after his tweet memorialising Sir Alex Ferguson suggested the outgoing Manchester United manager had died.
The Labour leader paid tribute to Sir Alex as a "proud man" and a "great manager" who would "never be forgotten".
Proud man. Great manager. Staunch Labour Party supporter. Sir Alex Ferguson will never be forgotten.
— Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) May 8, 2013
The language led many online to conclude Miliband had mistakenly thought Sir Alex had passed away. Manchester United confirmed he would merely be stepping down as manager at the end of the current season.
Easy on the obit Ed, he hasn't died RT @ed_miliband: Sir Alex Ferguson will never be forgotten.— The Stand (@StandComedyClub) May 8, 2013
RT @ed_miliband: Saddened to hear about the loss of Sir Alex Ferguson. A generation will remember him fondly from Blackbusters.— Will (@WillMcHoebag) May 8, 2013
“@ed_miliband: Proud man. Great manager. Staunch Labour Party supporter. Sir Alex Ferguson will never be forgotten.” Has he died?!— Michael Potts (@potts93) May 8, 2013
@ed_miliband Jesus, you literally can't get anything right. He's not dead you muppet.— Phil Cremin (@Philcremin) May 8, 2013
The news of Ferguson's retirement threatens to overshadow today's state opening of parliament. Even David Cameron appeared to have accepted coverage will be swamped by the football legend's departure by tweeting himself this morning.
His praise was especially generous as Ferguson has been, in Miliband's words, a "staunch Labour party supporter" who has made clear he never accepted Cameron's attempted detoxification of the Conservative party.
"I believe Labour has always been the party of the working man and always will be," Ferguson said.
"I believe the Tories have always been about looking after their own rich types and always will be."
Ferguson has proved an astute observer of the political scene by likening the battle for power to his favourite football analogies.
He declared it was "squeaky bum time" for David Cameron two weeks before the 2010 general election in an interview for the Mirror newspaper.
Discussing Cameron's campaign, he said: "You see it in racing sometimes when the frontrunner just hits a wall and there's nothing left in the tank.
"Or that time Newcastle United were 12 points ahead and we chased them down and overtook them. You need real character and nerve to win from the front, and he doesn't seem to have it."
In the same interview Ferguson also dismissed Nick Clegg with all the decisiveness of an experienced talent scout.
"Sometimes you throw on a young kid into a big game and they have a great debut, the press want to know all about him," he said, at a time when Clegg's party were riding high in the opinion polls.
"But that fuss can be counter-productive and often you find they aren't quite ready for it. You need to find out if they are strong enough to do it over the whole piece."