Referee Mike Dean has further risked the wrath of Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson by prompting an FA charge of improper conduct for Rafael da Silva.
The Brazil full-back was sent off for two bookable offences in Sunday's goalless draw against Tottenham but is now facing the prospect of an extended suspension after Dean's report made specific mention of his response to the decision.
Rafael reacted furiously and confronted Dean before kicking out at a pitch-side microphone as he made his way towards the tunnel. Wayne Rooney was also booked for dissent after loudly protesting against the decision.
Rafael's second booking had been for what looked like an innocuous and accidental trip on Benoit Assou-Ekotto as he ran behind the Tottenham left-back. Spurs manager Harry Redknapp even called the red card "harsh" and compared the incident to the infamous clash -- between Mary Decker and Zola Budd at the 1984 Olympics.
Ferguson was clearly also angered but refused to comment after the match, presumably to avoid any risk of an FA charge himself.
"I don't have to discuss the referee," he said. "It's out of my bounds now, thank God."
Ferguson previously incurred a £10,000 fine and two-game touchline ban for confronting Dean after a match against Hull during the 2008-09 season and, following the loss against Chelsea last April, he said, "when I saw Mike Dean I did worry."
The FA released a statement yesterday to confirm that Rafael would face further disciplinary action.
"Manchester United defender Rafael da Silva has been charged by the FA with improper conduct," the statement read. "The charge relates to the player's conduct towards match official Mike Dean following his dismissal in Manchester United's fixture at Tottenham."
Rafael has until 6.0 today to respond to the charge. Should Rafael be found not guilty, he would serve a one-match suspension and so only miss the game on Saturday against Birmingham. However, if he is found guilty he could face a warning, a fine or an additional one-match ban. That would mean also being suspended for the match against Blackpool next Tuesday.
The Manchester United players have been quick to back their team-mate, with goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar stressing that Rafael is still only at the start of his career.
"He played really well although people will highlight those two moments," said Van der Sar. "But he is only 20 and he has a great future. A couple of challenges went his way but it was a high-pressure game for him."
Patrice Evra felt that the second booking was a mistake. "We saw it again in the dressing-room and it's a difficult one," said Evra. "I don't think it's a yellow card. Rafael did a great job for us. When you play against a player like Gareth Bale you need a strong right-back and Rafael showed he's good enough."
Despite Rafael's sending-off, United again demonstrated the defensive strength that has underpinned their unbeaten Premier League record this season.
"Rio (Ferdinand) and Vida (Nemanja Vidic) were amazing," said Evra. "People always say Aaron Lennon gives me a difficult game but I think they've only watched the Carling Cup final (from 2009). If you watch the games since then I don't think Lennon has beaten me once.
"Winning the league without losing a game is a great challenge for us, but the most important thing is to win the league."
Van der Sar also praised United's defence, but wants the team to show more creativity. "I think we had to be solid and we showed a good defensive display," he said. "On the ball we could have brought a little more to the game and we didn't play as well as we can." (© Daily Telegraph, London)