Football FanCast columnist Ray Howells feels that Sir Alex has merely fallen victim to what has gone on before.
Witch-hunt is a strong word, but it is exactly what appears to be happening to Sir Alex Ferguson since his choice words at the weekend. I am sure there is a little part of him that regrets what was said, but it should be noted that they came straight after the game, in the heat of the moment, and wasn't a calculated attack a good hour or so later.
While the comments made were wrong, I think we are all in agreement with that, little has been made about the circumstances around it and how the game against Manchester City had clearly influenced it. I mean here is Alan Wiley, the man who upset the likes of Mark Hughes for sharing a joke with Ferguson on the touchline after Owen's late winner – could he honestly risk playing over the allotted four minutes, given the furore it caused back then, especially as the chances were it could lead to a likely United winner?
What I find disappointing about this whole referees' fraternity is that they are all pointing the finger at a man who simply exposed their blatant inconsistencies. At the end of the day when Mr. Atkinson was roundly criticised for playing an extra two minutes added time at the end of the Manchester derby they all rallied around, stuck up for their colleague and justified the time that was added on for stoppages/goals, substitutions etc, however nothing has been mentioned about the missing added time on Wiley's clock, which in truth was the reason for Sir Alex's frustrations. I'm sure Fergie is fully aware that United had become victim of what went on before and he knew that Wiley bottled it, because he would know the ramifications had he allowed an injury time winner, given what went on a few weeks before. Don't get me wrong, Sir Alex was totally wrong with what he said and the manner of which it was expressed; however a closer inspection of Mr. Wiley's actions and the reasoned he failed to adhere to the referee's apparent code of time keeping must also be brought to light.