In the wake of Manchester United’s 4-3 victory over Newcastle United at Old Trafford on Wednesday, the Football Association have decided not to punish Sir Alex Ferguson for confronting referee Mike Dean and his assistants.
Ferguson was visibly incensed by Dean’s decision (correctly) to allow Newcastle’s second goal. The United manager harangued the linesman and the referee, even spitting out his chewing gum as he ranted, before being pulled away by his assistant Mike Phelan.
However, Newcastle manager Alan Pardew stated his belief that FA should have taken disciplinary action against the United boss – Pardew was banned from the touchline for two matches in August of this year after he appeared to push a match official.
Subsequently, Ferguson has responded by effectively calling Pardew a hypocrite.
"Alan Pardew is the worst for haranguing referees. His whole staff [do it] every game. He shoves the referee and makes a joke of it, and he's got the cheek to criticise - it's unbelievable."
Whilst the United manager may have a point, Pardew was in fact punished for his behaviour and Ferguson’s comments don’t cut it in my mind – two wrongs still don’t make a right.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger also pointed to the fact that “the rules are the rules” and admitted that it doesn’t matter if it’s him or any other manager – whoever it is, they should face consequences for their actions.
The fact that Ferguson was actually incorrect in his judgement of Mike Dean’s decision is irrelevant – even if the goal should have been disallowed, aggressively confronting any match official is illegal under FIFA regulations. That Ferguson gets away with it bemuses me. I don’t understand why there seems to be one rule for one, and another for Manchester United.
I’m not anti-Manchester United in anyway and I have a lot of respect for the club, the manager, the players and the fans but, in this instance, my respect for the FA along with other footballing authorities is diminished.
Why haven’t they punished Sir Alex Ferguson when other managers, like Wenger, and countless others, receive touchline bans for merely criticising the referee in their post-match interviews and press conferences. I simply can’t follow that logic.
For years I’ve heard rival fans – whether they be supporters of Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, or anyone else for that matter – muttering of the injustices that seem to centre around Manchester United.
Some theorize conspiracies – pointing to the high number of penalties United are awarded, the excessive amounts of stoppage time given when they’re searching for a late goal, and, more generally, decisions that could go either way in games do tend to go United’s way, especially at Old Trafford.
I’ve always been sceptical when rival fans and discontents suggest there is more than just ‘favouritism’ at play but for the first time I find myself questioning the validity of these claims.
Is it possible that Ferguson does have the FA in his back pocket? Or is it just a case of the biggest club in the world tending to come out on top? I can’t answer that but the FA should - people are going to want to know: why is Ferguson an exception to the rule?
image: © abhijittembhekar