Ferguson comes under fire

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has come under renewed attack following his criticism of Andre Marriner's display in Sunday's clash between last season's Premier League champions and Liverpool.

Ferguson was furious that Marriner sent Nemanja Vidic off in the closing stages of his side's 2-0 defeat, but opted to keep his cards in his pocket when Jamie Carragher felled Michael Owen.

The official also waved away a penalty appeal from the visitors when Carragher and Michael Carrick clashed in the box.

Earlier in the month, Ferguson accused Alan Wiley of being unfit when he officiated United's 2-2 draw with Sunderland at Old Trafford and said after Sunday's game that Marriner was not experienced enough to take charge of such a high-profiel encounter.

But former Premier League referee Jeff Winter insists:"It's so frustrating when a manager as experienced and respected as Sir Alex Ferguson makes a statement about the laws of the game which is completely inaccurate.

"I don't know if Sir Alex Ferguson has got a problem with referees but he has got a problem when Manchester United don't win and blaming the referee is the easy option.

"His statement about Carragher shows that either he doesn't know the laws of the game or he's resorting to mind games again.

"There are signs that his temper is getting worse. Some of his touchline antics, when you see the veins standing out on his neck and see him swearing and shouting, are not too good for his own health let alone anyone else's.

"I don't know whether it's age or what but he seems to be getting less tolerant of everybody and everything – especially when Manchester United don't manage to win. This sort of thing seems to be happening every other week with him now.

"If I were the FA I would personally impose a FIFA-style stadium ban on Sir Alex. I think it's got to be harsh punishment to teach him and everyone else a lesson.

"The FA have to take serious action against him. Anything less and the Respect campaign is dead in the water. They've got to show Sir Alex and everyone else that behaviour like this will not be tolerated. A fine or, in this case, even a touchline ban won't be enough."

Another senior refereeing source, still officiating at Premier League matches, told The Guardian that the referee was right not to send Carragher off for hauling Owen back.

He said:"Ferguson clearly doesn't understand the law about the denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.

"The fouled player has to have full control of the ball and has to be moving towards the goal but Michael Owen did not fulfil either condition.

"Andre Marriner was absolutely right to award a yellow card and a direct free-kick.

"It would have been totally wrong for him to have sent Jamie Carragher off. And Sir Alex should never have said that Andre Marriner was not an experienced referee when he is on the FIFA list and got all the important decisions right on Sunday."

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