A series of contentious decisions in yesterday’s game at Stamford Bridge have left Sir Alex Ferguson aggrieved following a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea.
Referee Martin Atkinson deemed what looked to be a perfectly good Darren Fletcher tackle on Ashley Cole a foul, and from the resulting Frank Lampard free kick, John Terry nodded home the only goal of the game leading Ferguson to claim, “You lose faith in refereeing sometimes.”
Ferguson was further angered when replays showed Didier Drogba had not only pulled Wes Brown to the ground but also may have been in an offside position and interfering with play as the goal went in.
“The referee’s position to make the decision was absolutely ridiculous, he can’t see anything, that goal should never have been allowed. ” said the Scot.
Ferguson complaints were not unwarranted as a succession of officiating errors and inconsistencies worked against United. Wayne Rooney was incorrectly adjudged to have been offside when through on goal despite Ashley Cole in fact playing him onside. Then United were unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty when John Terry got a handful of Antonio Valencia’s shirt and hauled him to the floor.
The decisions also worked against Chelsea when Didier Drogba was given a yellow card for a challenge on Jonny Evans despite replays showing he had been kicked in the ribs.
This is not the only time Martin Atkinson has felt the ire of Ferguson.
Following United exit from out of the 2008 FA Cup quarter finals at the hands of Portsmouth, Ferguson remarked Atkinson was “not doing his job properly”, after he had failed to award United a penalty when Sylvain Distin bundled Cristiano Ronaldo over in the box. Atkinson also failed to punish a series of fouls on the Portuguese star throughout the game.
Ferguson already faces an FA disciplinary hearing next month to explain comments he made about referee Alan Wiley’s fitness after United drew 2-2 with Sunderland at the start of October so this latest outburst may not work in his favour.
The standard of officiating this season has not been the best with Mike Jones allowing the now infamous ‘beach ball’ goal in the game between Sunderland and Liverpool to stand as well as disallowing a perfectly good Geovanni free kick and awarding Tyrone Mears a penalty for tripping over his own feet in a game between Hull City and Burnley.
Keith Hackett, the general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Board, admitted he rang Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez to apologise for Jones allowing the goal to stand and whilst his performance in the Liverpool/Sunderland saw him demoted to the Championship, his performance in the Hull/Burnley game saw him removed from main officiating duties completely.
As the BBC are reporting Ferguson will not face action from the FA over his latest outburst against Atkinson it seems this is, along with the willingness to punish mistakes by referees like Mike Jones, vindication of his view that the officiating this season can be improved.