Thursday 20 July 2017

Ferguson tells players not to fret over officials

Alex Ferguson. Photo: PA
Alex Ferguson. Photo: PA

Mark Ogden

Alex Ferguson has warned his Manchester United players not to allow the "paranoia" of refereeing decisions against Chelsea to scupper their attempts to win the Champions League and Premier League this season.

United are due to face league champions Chelsea in the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday, followed by a potential decisive league encounter at Old Trafford on May 8.

But after being banned from the touchline by the FA for a total of five matches following his criticism of referee Martin Atkinson in the wake of United’s 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge earlier this month, Ferguson insists his team cannot allow recent controversies with officials to affect their forthcoming clashes with Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

Ferguson, whose criticism activated a two-match suspended ban, has claimed that mistakes by Atkinson and Wirral official Mike Dean during the league defeats against Chelsea last season ultimately decided the title race.

But the United manager now wants a line to be drawn under the issue as they prepare for the Champions League first-leg on Wednesday.

“In the last few games [against Chelsea], we have had terrible decisions against us.” Ferguson said. “You’ve just got to be careful that you don’t have paranoia about it.

“Ability-wise, we’re a good team. We played exceptionally well at Chelsea the last game, we were very, very unlucky. We didn’t deserve to lose.”

Ferguson, who serves the second game of his touchline ban against West Ham at Upton Park on Saturday, admits he was not surprised by the Football Association standing firmly behind Atkinson following his comments.

He said: “If you speak your mind, it’s a problem in the game. [The FA] is very strong in supporting the referees. In a way, I totally agree with that but there has to be fair comment also. I think I try to do that.”

Ferguson, speaking to ESPN in the United States, insists he will not retire at the end of this season, even if United win a record 19th domestic title.

“No, no, I’m fit,” Ferguson said. “I think that retirement is for young people. They can do something. “If you’ve got your fitness, you’ve not got a problem. If you have got your health, you don’t have a problem.

“The thing that would decide it for me is if those things deteriorated.”

Ferguson added: “We’re still in everything. We’re in the semi-final of the FA Cup, the quarter-finals of the Champions league and we’re top of the league so, statistically, we’re doing great.

“I think we’ve done exceptionally well considering the injuries we’ve carried.”

Telegraph.co.uk

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