Niceties at end as Ferguson sticks boot in over Drogba elbow
IT WAS only ever going to be a matter of time before Chelsea and Manchester United's mental sparring turned antagonistic, but if there was a surprise yesterday, it was that it was Alex Ferguson, and not Jose Mourinho, pointing an accusatory finger.
In a thinly veiled attack that is certain to anger the Chelsea manager, Ferguson implied that Didier Drogba should have been sent off for an elbow on Nemanja Vidic last Sunday.
Vidic had to sit out United's 3-0 victory at home to Everton on Wednesday after undergoing an X-ray on his jaw, which bore the brunt of Drogba's elbow.
The Chelsea striker was booked for the first-half challenge, but, having initially feared that Vidic had broken his jaw, Ferguson believes that the yellow card Howard Webb brandished was not punishment enough. "He (Vidic) got an elbow into his jaw and it was a concern because we thought maybe it was fractured," the United manager said.
"Fortunately it is not, but he is still very, very tender so we just had to leave him out (against Everton). What was a concern was that the player (Drogba) only got a yellow card for the use of the elbow."
Few are as good at ruffling feathers as Ferguson and his accusatory comments about Drogba are the clearest indication yet that, for all the mutual respect that exists between the United manager and Mourinho, the niceties are over.
By the time Arsenal visit Stamford Bridge on Sunday week in Chelsea's next Premiership game, the Blues could trail the leaders by nine points if United win their next two league games, away to Middlesbrough tomorrow and at home to Manchester City next Saturday. (© The Times, London)