Sport

Ferguson revels in Vieira sideshow

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson.
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson. Getty Images / Clive Rose

SIR Alex Ferguson has suggested the Manchester City executive Patrick Vieira was in breach of Football Association rules when he claimed that Manchester United have been the beneficiaries of refereeing decisions this season.

>> Latest sport news

The Manchester United manager's sunny demeanour revealed an individual clearly revelling in City's struggle to shut down the verbal sideshow, which led to their excoriating criticism of the BBC, late on Wednesday, for an interview in which Vieira discussed refereeing iniquities as he perceives them. Ferguson twice qualified his response yesterday with an acknowledgement that Vieira and City had retracted the comments - made in response to the question of Fulham being denied a late penalty at Old Trafford on Monday. But he still made hay.

"I can bring [Roy] Keane back if he wants - make it interesting!" said Ferguson, in an allusion to the France international's battles with Keane as an Arsenal player.

Vieira's public discussion of City has been a part of the drive to be heard by a club who lack the generations of former playing legends who give United a voice.

But Roberto Mancini and his management team do not want distractions and Ferguson said he thought it possible that Vieira was deliberately trying to create one.

"I'm trying to analyse that, you know," he said. "I'm not sure. He [Vieira] is more or less saying all the refs have been wrong this season - and you're not supposed to discuss referees. He is a paid official, isn't he? I think he is, isn't he? Apparently, he's retracted it. It's interesting."

FA rules governing media comments state that a club official may not make comments about a match official which imply bias, question his integrity or are of a personal nature. It is understood that Vieira's comments seem non-specific enough for the FA not to consider him to be in breach.

Ferguson also rebutted Vieira's claim, made at Manchester's Soccerex convention, that City deserved to win the title as they had played the best football.

"They were playing great football in the first half of the season, there's no doubt about that. Everyone recognised that," he said. "We felt the brunt of it when they beat us 6-1. But a season lasts for a bit longer than three months."

Vieira's comments on refereeing were prefaced with his comment that: "I have to be careful what I say because if I say something you will make more noise than if it was a Fulham player or a Fulham coach. I don't want to get into that kind of comment." It was when he was asked: "You don't think United get any kind of advantage because they have been dominant for so long?" that he provided the answer that generated the BBC website article which angered City.

Ferguson pointed to Gareth Barry's clip on Glen Whelan's left ankle at Stoke City last Saturday, which left the Stoke manager, Tony Pulis, insistent that his side deserved a penalty.

"City could have had a penalty kick against them at Stoke, as everyone saw, Gareth Barry. So you get breaks here and there," Ferguson said. "Every club gets good breaks, they get bad breaks that even themselves out over a season and that will never change. We've had some terrible decisions at Old Trafford, when Newcastle got a penalty kick [with Rio Ferdinand adjudged to have fouled Hatem Ben Arfa in November.]

"Tottenham could claim the same when [Mario] Balotelli wasn't sent off and ended up scoring the winning goal [in January]. You could go through millions of things like that.

"I think you maybe have a point that the smaller clubs feel that way. Someone said that to me some years ago that United always get penalty kicks at Old Trafford but you go back through the 25 years I've been here, it's only averaged three a year, or three and a half a year, or something like that. You can't say that's a lot when we're attacking teams every minute of the day."

Mancini, whose side will go back to the top of the Premier League by beating Sunderland at home tomorrow, is expected to appear before the press this morning for the first time since the exchanges between Vieira and Ferguson began.

Vieira insists that he twice told the BBC on Wednesday that he didn't want to enter the debate, though he has never shown a lack of appetite for renewed, head-on confrontations with United. In his first press interview after returning to England with City in January 2010 he said United "don't look as strong as they used to. I don't know why. They are not dominating like they used to. United used to be top and so many points clear. That is no longer the case. You have Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool so it is not easy to go away and win games any more."

Topics:  manchester city fc, manchester united



Empowering all to achieve anything

CARING: Community champion Lisa Nichols.

Woopi local dedicated to helping people with disability move forward

New rideshare service for Coffs Coast

CAB ALTERNATIVE: New rideshare service Go Buggy is set to launch in Coffs Harbour on September 6.

Coffs Harbour taxi industry is about to get some competition.

Police pursuit ends after fleeing driver crashes into garden

A man and woman were arrested following a police chase last night at Blacksoil.

A MAN has been charged following a police pursuit on the Coffs Coast

Latest deals and offers

Kirk Douglas is defiant, fierce and still standing

VETERAN ACTOR: Kirk Douglas has had a long and varied career.

Kirk Douglas has out-lived almost all his contemporaries

The Hard Word reviews Kyzer Soze

Kyzer Soze are playing Brisbane tomorrow at the Crowbar in Fortitude Valley. Photo Contributed

Kyzer Soze summon the evil for this mighty slab of death metal

Britney Spears 'almost drowned' in Hawaii

Britney Spears has revealed she 'almost drowned' while on holiday

Doco reveals real story behind Black Hawk Down

Former Black Hawk pilot Mike Durant shares his story, which helped to inspire the movie Black Hawk Down, in the TV series No Man Left Behind.

FORMER pilot recounts ordeal which inspired a Hollywood movie.

What's on the big screen this week

Toby Kebbell and Jack Huston in a scene from the movie Ben-Hur.

AN OLD classic returns to the big screen with a new young star.

Bachelor Richie gives bacon-loving Noni the boot

Noni Janur features on this season of The Bachelor.

TOOWOOMBA swimwear designer still single but focusing on her career.

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

Investors eye Gladstone's $4m island with resort approval

UP FOR SALE: Turtle Island is on the market.

CHINESE and Sydney investors flag interest in Gladstone island.

Take a sneak peek at this $19m Whitsunday mansion

Mandalay House features a private helipad.

Mandalay is currently on the market with an asking price of $19m

Guess which Sunshine Coast suburb cracked the million dollar list?

This four-bedroom home at 26 McAnally Dr, Sunshine Beach was for sale for $7 million.

List of Australia's five most-expensive suburbs

Does it get any better than this? Check out this $2M home

LUXURY LIVING: The Coral Cove home built by Steve Coates Constructions that took out the best home over $2 million and the Wide Bay Burnett House of the Year at the Master Builders Wide Bay Burnett Housing and Construction Awards.

Wide Bay's best home is right on our doorstep