Sir Alex Ferguson’s fears Manchester United’s Premier League title bid could be wrecked by a refereeing decision at Old Trafford next Sunday.
United now face a crucial encounter with Chelsea just three points ahead of the Londoners following yesterday’s 1-0 defeat at Arsenal.
Less than 24 hours after Chelsea profited from two errors by match officials to record a 2-1 win over Tottenham, Ferguson felt his own side were denied the chance of a point at the Emirates when referee Chris Foy failed to spot Gael Clichy’s foul on Michael Owen.
Coming a couple of months after Ferguson was furious at pivotal decisions that went against United in a defeat at Chelsea, and still believing the Red Devils were on the wrong end of key calls in both matches between the two sides last term, the Scot is worried about history repeating itself.
“It’s too big a game not to get the decisions right, Ferguson said. “Clichy knew. He put his hands up in horror.
“Obviously, it gives Chelsea a major chance now. That’s what happens when you get these decisions.
“They got one at Old Trafford last season so that’s the worry now.”
Ferguson does appear to be using a selective judgement on refereeing decisions involving United.
Against Chelsea last season for instance, Federico Macheda scored thanks to a handball not long after Didier Drogba netted from an offside position.
Whilst United were on the wrong end of two calls at Stamford Bridge this season, in the Champions League encounter at the same ground, Ramires was denied a cast-iron spot-kick in the last minute after being felled by Patrice Evra.
Even yesterday, Nemanja Vidic’s first-half handball should have been spotted by Foy.
“It was difficult for anyone to see that,” argued Ferguson.
“It was a mere flick of the ball. You don’t really expect the linesman or the referee to see that. But [the Owen incident] was a clear penalty kick as far as I’m concerned.”
Manchester City took a stranglehold on fourth place with a 2-1 win over West Ham. City took a 2-0 lead inside 15 minutes through Nigel de Jong’s first goal for the club and a Pablo Zabaleta effort which Lars Jacobsen was unable to keep out on the line, but Demba Ba pulled one back before half-time.
Goals continued to flow at Anfield under Kenny Dalglish as Liverpool strengthened their claim for European football next season with a 3-0 victory over Newcastle while Wolves failed to capitalise on the sending-off of Birmingham midfielder Craig Gardner and remained in the bottom three after sharing the spoils at St Andrew’s.