Manchester United and Rio Ferdinand are today set to challenge the extended ban handed out by the FA for his red card against Hull in January. The Guardian reports that the Old Trafford club are willing to risk a further extension to the ban in order to make their case.
This whole story seems more than a little bit petty from United. The video footage of the incident appears conclusive and the original appeal was rightly labelled by the FA as ‘frivolous’. Regardless of provocation or frustration Ferdinand swings his arms and connects with Fagan. It is a well known rule at all levels of football that you can not raise your hands towards an opponent. If seen by the referee, or later by TV cameras, then it is a red card offence and a three match ban. There are of course many shades of grey but Ferdinand’s actions seem to be fairly clear cut.
It was a surprise to me that United even appealed in the first instance. There is little chance of getting a reprieve from the FA even if there is a genuine injustice. Of course the original appeal had external motivations, with the appeal delaying the ban and allowing the England international to play in the crucial Carling Cup second leg match. Arguably therefore the original appeal worked. Man City were defeated and the extra game ban was a price worth paying.
Now however, United need to see common sense and accept the ban. How far are United willing to go? Will they continue to appeal and complain until Ferdinand is banned for ten games? The FA must be tempted to dismiss the appeal outright, and could justifiably say that United are wasting their time.
Considering the lack of defensive depth that United suffered from earlier in the season it is ridiculous that they would unnecessarily further increase Ferdinand’s ban. In Jonny Evans and Nemanja Vidic they have an excellent partnership and they won’t really miss Ferdinand. Yet both players have picked up injuries this season and there is little fully fit cover beyond Wes Brown.
Ferdinand himself has been injury prone this season and having only recently returned to the first team it seems counter-productive to further deny him any game time. With big games in the Champions League against AC Milan and the domestic title race ahead surely Ferdinand needs to rediscover his form and fitness by playing regularly. No doubt Fabio Capello would also like to see his centre half getting game time ahead of the World Cup and not sitting watching in the stands.
United and Ferdinand need to just accept the ruling of the FA. Of course they can be disappointed with the decision, but they are shooting themselves in the foot if they continue to pursue this appeal. It also makes the club look a little bit childish, unwilling to accept the decision of the governing body. I hope for sanity’s sake they see sense and accept the ban they already have.