After the game at The Emirates on Sunday Sir Alex Ferguson was quick to bemoan his team’s luck regarding refereeing decisions going against Man United. Ferguson felt his team were denied a last gasp penalty when Michael Owen went down under Gael Clichy’s challenge. It was clear to see that United should have been awarded the penalty, although Arsenal should have had their own spot kick in the first half when Vidic handled a Theo Walcott cross. It’s not the first time this season Ferguson has felt the big decisions haven’t gone his way. The Chelsea fixture at Stamford Bridge led to Ferguson serving a five game touchline ban after his comments about referee Martin Atkinson. Ferguson felt Chelsea were awarded a soft penalty in the game, and that match winner David Luiz should have been sent off. He was quoted after the game as saying “It was a major game for both clubs and you want a fair referee, you know … You want a strong referee, anyway, and we didn’t get that.”
I don’t see how Manchester United have fared differently to any other team in the Premier League this season when it comes to refereeing decisions. I’m sure Mick McCarthy could point out a long list of decisions that have gone against his club, which could ultimately lead to Wolves relegation. Sir Alex’s recent comments came on a weekend where his side lost and missed out on a penalty. He may have found this easier to swallow had his nearest Championship rivals Chelsea not been awarded a goal that wasn’t, and a goal from an offside position in the same match.
While Ferguson has been busy pointing out the decisions that have gone against his team, he conveniently glosses over the decisions that have gone their way. The phrase ‘pot calling the kettle black’ springs to mind with the Scot. Going back to the game at Stamford Bridge earlier this season, United goal scorer Wayne Rooney should not have even been on the pitch. Mark Clattenburg failed to spot a Rooney’s elbow on James McCarthy in United’s previous game against Wigan, and ridiculously the FA took no further action against the player. I’d say that’s a decision that worked out in Man United’s favour!
Over the years Manchester United have benefited from plenty of refereeing decisions in the Premier League, and I don’t think Fergie’s suggestion that Man United never get the big decisions carry any substance. Refereeing decisions are swings and roundabouts, sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t. Fergie’s comments are more than a little rich coming from a manager who should have seen his captain sent off against West Ham this season, but inexplicably Vidic stayed on the pitch and the game swung Man United’s way. Then there is Man United’s penalty against Liverpool in the 4th round of the F.A Cup – another very contentious decision that went United’s way.
While Ferguson is arguably the greatest manager that has ever lived, he doesn’t get everything right and on this occasion I think his comments have stemmed out of frustration. Losing to a rival, missing out on a penalty and seeing Chelsea get the rub of the green has led to Ferguson’s comments. What I would be interested in hearing though, is Fergie’s response to the long list of decisions that have gone in United’s favour this season.