Fergie hits out at FA over preferential treatment of Liverpool
Alex Ferguson has stoked the fires before his team's Premier League game against Liverpool at Old Trafford tomorrow by accusing the FA of giving the Merseyside club preferential treatment.
The Manchester United manager is furious that Steven Gerrard and Javier Mascherano, the Liverpool midfield players, escaped disciplinary action this season over incidents similar to the one that earned Rio Ferdinand, the United defender, a four-match ban for violent conduct.
"They (Liverpool) do all right," Ferguson said, witheringly, of the FA's decision not to charge Gerrard or Mascherano. "They are lucky like that. Maybe one day we will get lucky."
He also said that he was not surprised to see Liverpool struggling after claiming they "over-performed" last season and expressed little sympathy with the plight of Rafael Benitez, their manager, who said he was no longer on talking terms with the Scot after their public feud during the past campaign.
Ferguson has called for an urgent overhaul of the FA's disciplinary unit after openly questioning its integrity and dismissing the governing body as "dysfunctional."
Ferdinand was suspended after striking Craig Fagan, the Hull City forward, during a league match in January. Four months earlier, Mascherano avoided punishment for appearing to strike Jermaine Beckford, the Leeds United forward, in similar circumstances during a Carling Cup third-round tie at Elland Road.
The FA could not take action against Gerrard for catching Michael Brown, the Portsmouth midfield player, with his forearm during Liverpool's 4-1 win at Anfield on Monday because Stuart Attwell, the referee, said he had seen the incident and deemed it sufficient only to award a free-kick to the away team. Ferguson, though, seemed unconvinced.
"He saw the elbow?" Ferguson said, disbelievingly. "You see, it goes on and on and on. I didn't expect them to charge Gerrard simply because it's a dysfunctional unit, the FA.
"I don't think they know what they are doing. There is no consistency for a start, so you can't expect to get consistency and I never expect any. So, I'm not too bothered about it, to be honest with you. They'll do what they want down there. It's crazy at times.
"But I certainly think if it was a Manchester United player, he would have been done, as was the case with Rio Ferdinand. There is nothing you can do about it. You just scratch your head at some of the decisions they take and wonder how they came to them."
Ferguson wants to see a four-man panel of managers who are not employed at present presiding over disciplinary hearings.
"There are about 20 redundant managers around who have had a good experience of the game," he said. "They could get involved.
"I wonder if it's worth exploring the managers who don't have a job at the moment taking over that department, so we could maybe have a body of four sitting every Sunday assessing the TV issues of the weekend."
Ferguson suggested last summer that Liverpool would do well to repeat the form they showed last season, when they ran United close for the title, and his misgivings about Benitez's team have proved well founded.
"It was an exceptional season (that Liverpool had)," he said. "I thought it would be difficult to achieve that again. That was just my opinion." Asked if they over-performed, he said: "Yes. I think they did very well."
Ferguson has ordered Owen Hargreaves to forget about the World Cup finals and instead concentrate on winning back his United place after the midfield player made his first competitive appearance for 18 months in the reserve team on Thursday, in the wake of a double knee operation, and then talked about the possibility of making England's squad for South Africa this summer.
"I think we deserve some service," Ferguson said. "Talking about World Cups...there is nothing wrong with talking about it, but he should be concentrating on United. And he will do that." (© The Times, London)
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