Ferguson blames credibility of linesmen after dubious penalty decision
ALEX Ferguson questioned the credibility of assistant referees appointed to Premier League games after he saw Manchester United held by Newcastle following a highly-dubious penalty decision.
The teams drew 1-1 at Old Trafford but the result hinged on the intervention of linesman John Flynn with United leading courtesy of Javier Hernandez.
When Rio Ferdinand slid in on Hatem Ben Arfa, referee Mike Jones indicated a corner, only for Flynn to signal a spot-kick.
TV replays indicated Ferdinand's challenge had been legal but after discussing the decision with Flynn, Jones refused to overrule his assistant and Demba Ba tucked home the spot-kick.
Ferdinand railed against "an absolutely shocking decision" before adding: "The problem is the referees are full-time and the linesmen are not."
Ferguson told Sky Sports: "Everyone was astounded. Whether he ever gets a game again the assistant referee is not for me to decide."
Even Newcastle manager Alan Pardew accepted his team had "got a break", although he did feel Ferdinand had taken a chance by sliding in.
"I thought the tackle was risky," he said.
"He definitely played the ball. I have seen it. If it was against me I would be very aggrieved."
Tottenham moved into third place with a 3-1 win at West Brom thanks to an Emmanuel Adebayor double as well as a goal for Jermain Defoe who made his first league start since early October in place of the injured Rafael van der Vaart.
Redknapp praised the England striker, saying: "Jermain has been unlucky. I can only play him or Rafa who has played well and scored goals."
Baggies counterpart Roy Hodgson said: "I thought the shape of the team was good, the passing was good, the movement was good and the result was crap. That is basically it."
Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas identified December as a key month as he eased some of the pressure he has been facing following a 3-0 victory over Wolves at Stamford Bridge, courtesy of goals by John Terry, Daniel Sturridge and Juan Mata.
He said: "December will be important. We have a Champions League fixture still to play but the rest of the games are in the Premier League and this month will play a big part in what happens in the league."
Wolves now sit just one above the relegation zone and boss Mick McCarthy said: "It was not good enough from us."
Arsene Wenger was philosophical after Arsenal drew 1-1 with Fulham at the Emirates Stadium.
The Cottagers went ahead through Thomas Vermaelen's own goal although the defender atoned with the equaliser seven minutes from time.
Wenger said: "It is disappointing because we dropped two points, but at least it keeps our unbeaten run going."
For Fulham boss Martin Jol: "A draw for us is a satisfying result."
Everton moved up to ninth with a 2-0 win at Bolton thanks to goals by Marouane Fellaini and Apostolos Vellios, Norwich are just one place behind after goals by Russell Martin and Grant Holt sandwiched a Luke Young strike for QPR.
The pressure increased on Sunderland boss Steve Bruce after Franco di Santo scored an injury-time winner for Wigan in a 2-1 victory at the Stadium of Light.
Sebastian Larsson put the hosts ahead before Jordi Gomez's penalty was followed at the death by Di Santo's winner.
Stoke ended a run of four successive league defeats with a 3-1 defeat of troubled Blackburn.
Goals from Rory Delap, Glenn Whelan and Peter Crouch increased the pressure on Rovers manager Steve Kean as Ruben Rochina's late consolation had little impact.