Sir Alex Ferguson could now be in line for a prolonged touchline ban following his comments at Stamford Bridge after a crucial 2-1 defeat by Chelsea. He has been charged by the FA for improper conduct over comments made about referee Martin Atkinson.
During an interview with MUTV, he said: “You want a fair referee, or a strong referee anyway – and we didn’t get that.” These comments come days after referee Mark Clattenberg somehow failed to see Man Utd’s Wayne Rooney clatter Wigan’s James McCarthy, Fergie didn’t have as much to say at the final whistle on Saturday and knows that he and his striker got away with one. Perhaps he wants a strong referee such as Clattenberg who put his arm around Rooney and didn’t even brandish a yellow card for what should have been a straight red.
Sir Alex added: “I must say, when I saw who the referee was I feared it. I feared the worst.” He feels aggrieved because Yuri Zhirkov seemingly bought a soft penalty out of Atkinson under the challenge of Smalling. United then went on to lose inspirational defender Nemanja Vidic to a red card, whilst his counterpart David Luiz didn’t see a second yellow for his fouls on Javier Hernandez and later Rooney – who perhaps shouldn’t have been playing anyway.
Sir Alex lost his cool because of the magnitude of the fixture and in the pain of losing having taken the lead. However it doesn’t excuse his comments, too often Ferguson believes he is beyond the law because of his unsurpassed achievements in the game.
He has two matches of a four-game ban from last season hanging over him after remarks about referee Alan Wiley, who Ferguson deemed unfit to referee the match. If his suspended ban is triggered he will miss two matches beginning with the FA Cup clash with title rivals Arsenal at Old Trafford, he could then face another possible ban for his latest outburst.
There will be two debates that will arise, are the referee’s really that damn bad or have we just all lost respect for them? Most worrying is the fact that the men in charge of our national game are more inclined to punish a manager for few stray words in the heat of the moment, rather than punishing an England international with a violent forearm in the face of his opponent.