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Moyes and Fergie come to Mancini's defence over misconduct charge

Roberto Mancini received public backing from the most unlikely figures as Manchester City considered whether to lodge an appeal after their manager was charged by the English FA with improper conduct over his touchline bust-up with David Moyes.

Mancini, whose side take on Wigan in Premier League action at Eastlands on Monday, has until Tuesday week to respond to the charge, although he is expected to escape a touchline ban given that it is his first brush with the English authorities and he has apologised to Moyes and Peter Walton, the referee. The case will be heard by an FA regulatory commission by April 19.

A formal written warning or, at the worst, a fine are the most likely punishments after Mancini barged into Moyes. The Italian took exception to the Scot holding on to the ball, rather than throwing it straight back, during second-half stoppage time of Everton's 2-0 win on Wednesday.

The English FA has written to Moyes to remind him of his responsibilities but will not take disciplinary action against the Everton manager who, along with Alex Ferguson, his Manchester United counterpart, launched a surprise defence of Mancini, arguing that it was "big of him" to apologise publicly while claiming that the Italian should not "be brought before the FA".

Another fracas involving the clubs was also diffused yesterday, with George Downing, an Everton fan, and Garry Cook, the City chief executive, speaking to each other by telephone to draw a line under their heated exchange in the directors' box at Wednesday night's game.

City, though, are investigating an incident at the end of the match when Craig Bellamy was alleged to have made comments in support of Moyes after his stand-off with Mancini. Moyes declined to comment when asked about the matter yesterday.

Meanwhile, Ferguson has renewed his attack on the FA, accusing the governing body of double standards after Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen escaped an additional one-match ban despite failing in an attempt to have a red card overturned this week.

By contrast, Rio Ferdinand received an extra one-match suspension on top of a mandatory three-game ban for violent conduct last month after an independent regulatory commission ruled his appeal to be "frivolous".

"It's so inconsistent. It's difficult to analyse why Rio's was frivolous and that wasn't," Ferguson said. "Only the FA can answer that. They don't come out with a report on it, do they? It's sitting in the chambers of their minds."