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Why the "wee club from the North-East" will always have more class than Manchester United

By Lee Ryder on Dec 28, 12 05:30 PM


For a bloke who has won a lot of trophies with Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson doesn't half whine on a bit.

If you weren't staggered enough by Fergie's half-time antics at Old Trafford or if being bowled over by Mike Dean's decision not to do anything about it didn't irk you or the FA's stance to simply bury their heads in the sand about it, then Friday's Press conference should surely have been enough to have steam coming out of your ears.

But let's go back to the start of this sorry end of year tale of woe.

It all began when Mr Dean overuled his linesman Jake Collin and awarded Newcastle a perfectly good goal to hand Newcastle a 2-1 lead at Old Trafford.

Don't forget you don't usually get anything from officials at Old Trafford and down the years statistics have proved exactly that from penalties, the benefit of the doubt or a fair amount of stoppage time.

So for Dean to make such a big call at a time when Newcastle were clearly on top at the break clearly infuriated Ferguson - a man who seems to want to referee games as well as manage a team in them.

As the rain lashed down and Ferguson, complete with his hood up like The Emperor from Star Wars, made his way up the touchline it was obvious he was about to explode.

But even I couldn't believe what my eyes were relaying to my brain as he lambasted Dean, the fourth official and his linesman.

United coach Steve Stone even looked on in disbelief as Ferguson lost the plot.

Of course, Man United won the game as they put the ball in the net four times compared to Newcastle's three.

However, having roasted the officials and entered the field, breaking two rules if anybody from the FA is reading, the game then went on without Fergie being sent to the stands.

And that's without mentioning the impact of his rant on the officials.

Surely, the linesman would have felt that he was on trial in the second half with Ferguson and Mike Phelan prowling the touchline behind him.

The next time I get a leaflet from the FA appealing for young referees or linesmen (or assistants if you want to call them that), how serious am I meant to take it?

At the end of the day exactly who would want to be a ref or a linesman when people at the top of the game, like Ferguson, are ready to hurl abuse at officials?

Officials have a thankless task as it is, but until the likes of Dean and his counterparts start standing up to the Fergusons of the world, we won't get anywhere.

Especially on a day when Roberto Mancini and Harry Redknapp were warned by the FA for post-game comments.

When that becomes the case how can anybody trust the FA?

And how much does Ferguson want to contradict himself?

After all he did once say: "The haranguing of referees is absolutely ridiculous -- we know that. It's not right."

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has said nothing about the situation.

But Ferguson's rant at this Press conference was hardly justified.

Pardew is no angel after being sent to the stands this year for shoving a linesman.

However, he apologised quickly and admitted his errors before taking his punishment like a man.

All he said in the aftermath was: "Mike Dean might feel slightly disappointed he didn't do something about it because the pressure on the officials is tough to take for a referee.

"Sometimes when you reflect on a game and look back on it, maybe you might have acted differently.

"We do that as managers and I'm sure he might think that as a referee.

"Of course, it's an emotional game.

"Apparently they had a cordial discussion. I've had a few of them myself but sometimes ended up in the stands with that cordial discussion."

All of it is fair comment in my opinion.

Ferguson's reply back was nothing but staggering.

He said: "He is the worst for haranguing referees.

"His whole staff, every game.

"He was at it the whole game on Wednesday - he shoves a ref then makes a joke of it, then he's got the cheek to criticise me. It's unbelievable."

In reference to what Fergie is bleating on about here, all I can say is that the only time United's staff, John Carver, Steve Stone and Andy Woodman looked more animated than normal was when Antonio Valencia's shocking late tackle put Vurnon Anita out of tomorrow's game with Arsenal.

Yes, the United backroomers do use the technical areas of the Premier League for what they are there for - to convey information.

And they do question the fourth offical as you are allowed to appeal decisions.

This in my eyes is called passion and will to win - storming on to the field to influence referees at half-time is against the rules and the FA have failed the paying public by not acting on it.

To cap off his pathetic antics, Ferguson took a bitter swipe at the Newcastle fans when he said: "It is unfortunate but I am the manager of the most famous club in the world. Not Newcastle, a wee club in the north east."

Toon fans can't even begin to compete with Man United when it comes to trophy.

But any club that attracts 50,000 or more a game can't be that small.

Especially given Ferguson has been vocal in his praise for Newcastle United down the years and praised the fans.

We were big enough for Alan Shearer to turn down Man United in 1996.

And we were big enough when Bobby Robson sportingly persuaded Ferguson to postpone retirement at a time when Newcastle could have pipped them for the Premier League title.

Personally, I have never been able to take most Man United fans too seriously.

Especially the ones who were booing Ryan Giggs on Boxing Day because the loyal servant had a bad 20 minutes!

It is time for Man United to start showing some class.

The type of gesture mentioned from Bobby is what you call class, sadly childish Alex Ferguson has forgotten the meaning of the word.

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Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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