Ferguson hits back at refereeing 'bias' claim, insisting: I'll get Keane back to tackle Vieira!
21:27 GMT, 29 March 2012
Sir Alex Ferguson hit back in his
latest exchange with Manchester City and Patrick Vieira on Thursday over
suggestions his team benefit from favourable refereeing decisions at
Clearly warming to the challenge,
Ferguson hinted that the comments of Vieira, City's football development
executive, might be of interest to the FA and even joked about bringing
the former Arsenal midfielder's old rival Roy Keane back to Manchester
Mind games: City are not the best team now, says Fergie
An angry Vieira insists he was misrepresented in a BBC interview, and FA sources said last night they are unlikely to take any action against him.
But a week after he irked Ferguson by suggesting that bringing Paul Scholes out of retirement was an act of desperation, the United boss smiled when asked if the 35-year-old was trying to drag him into a slanging match as the Barclays Premier League title race hots up.
'I'm trying to analyse that,' said Ferguson. 'I'm not sure. He's more or less saying all the refs have been wrong this season and you're not supposed to discuss referees.
'So he is a paid official, isn't he I think he is, isn't he Apparently, he's retracted that. I can bring Keane back if he wants, and make it interesting!'
Famous feud: Roy Keane (left) and Patrick Vieira (right) clash
Vieira's comments followed a controversial incident at Old Trafford on Monday night when referee Michael Oliver rejected a late penalty claim from Fulham for Michael Carrick's challenge on Danny Murphy as United won 1-0 to go three points clear of City at the top of the table.
Ferguson insisted refereeing decisions even themselves out over the course of a season, and pointed to the penalty harshly awarded against Rio Ferdinand for his challenge on Newcastle's Hatem Ben Arfa in November.
The United boss had done his homework, claiming his side have been awarded an average of 'three-and-a-half penalties a year' during his time in charge.
He also tried to turn the tables on City by pointing out that Gareth Barry could have been penalised for his challenge on Stoke's Glenn Whelan at the weekend.
And he reminded his rivals that Mario Balotelli escaped a red card for his stamp on Scott Parker – the Italian received a retrospective ban – before scoring their winner from the penalty spot against Tottenham in January.
'We've had some terrible decisions at Old Trafford, like when Newcastle got a penalty kick,' said Ferguson.
Price of a stamp: Mario Balotelli catches the head of Tottenham's Scott Parker
'Tottenham could claim the same when Balotelli wasn't sent off and ended up scoring the winning goal. I think from the referee's position I could see why he didn't give one when Danny Murphy was brought down because the ball was moved to the angle as Michael Carrick challenged him.
'From that position it wasn't clear but it was a good claim.
'But then City could have had a penalty kick against them at Stoke, with Gareth Barry.
'Every club gets good breaks, they get bad breaks that even themselves out over a season and that will never change.
Prospering from a penalty: Balotelli remained on the pitch to score against Spurs
'Someone said to me years ago that United always get penalty kicks at Old Trafford. But you go back through the 25 years I've been here, it's only three-and-a-half a year or something like that.'
Ferguson also responded to Vieira's suggestion that City deserve to win the title because they have played the better football.
'They were playing great football in the first half of the season,' he said.
'We felt the brunt of it when they beat us 6-1. But a season lasts for a bit longer than three months.'
City can go top again by beating Sunderland at home on Saturday before United play at Blackburn on Monday night.