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Neil Warnock won"t be missed by referees – GRAHAM POLL

Bully Warnock behaved like a spoilt kid in a supermarket… I'm glad he's gone

By
Graham Poll

PUBLISHED:

21:41 GMT, 4 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 4 April 2013

Top-flight referees up and down the country will be breathing a sigh of relief at the prospect of Neil Warnock delivering on his threat to retire from management.

Warnock has been the bane of referees’ lives; almost imploding on the touchline when a throw-in went against his team and never failing to blame the official whenever his team lost.

He used to try to justify these attacks by claiming he was a qualified referee. Well, taking the exam is one thing but unless you are officiating matches regularly, you are not a referee.

Firebrand: Neil Warnock (right) protests his dismissal to Graham Poll (centre) in 2006

Firebrand: Neil Warnock (right) protests his dismissal to Graham Poll (centre) in 2006

Firebrand: Neil Warnock (right) protests his dismissal to Graham Poll (centre) in 2006

Bully: Sportsmail's Poll beileves Warnock at times behaved like a spoilt child

Bully: Sportsmail's Poll beileves Warnock at times behaved like a spoilt child

Of course, Warnock and I have
history. He was the manager at Old Trafford when his Sheffield United
side lost 1-0 to Arsenal in an FA Cup semi-final in April 2003.

According to Warnock, that defeat was
my fault, of course. I was also the referee who dismissed Warnock at
Bramall Lane in 2006 when the Blades were playing Leeds United.

Warnock should have been celebrating
his team winning promotion, which would allow him his first opportunity
to try his methods at the top level; where, of course, he has never
succeeded.

Instead, after a tackle from a Leeds
player, I heard him shout out to one of his team: ‘Next time break his
legs,’ referring to Gary Kelly.

I asked him to leave the technical
area, and he was suspended from the touchline for three games, two of
which would be his first in the Barclays Premier League.

Regular: Warnock would remonstrate with officials when things went against him. Here, as QPR manager during their match against Middlesbrough in 2010

Regular: Warnock would remonstrate with officials when things went against him. Here, as QPR manager during their match against Middlesbrough in 2010

Seriously An as Sheffield United manager after a match against Reading in 2005

Seriously An as Sheffield United manager after a match against Reading in 2005

A friend of mine is a Leeds fan and
went up to Elland Road for the game against Millwall. He and his son
could only laugh at Warnock’s antics that day.

And this is the point.
Warnock became a pitied parody of his former self — referees appeared to
allow his tantrums to go unchecked as they became less and less
effective.

The once-feared bully, who
successfully led teams to play-off glories, had become more like a badly
behaved child in a supermarket. Observers walked past shaking their
heads in disbelief at the sad spectacle.

It has become patently clear in his
later career that the aggressive and outdated approach to management
simply didn’t work in the top flight. Indeed, his powers seem to have
been on the wane for some time, with Leeds’ mid-table position only
serving to disguise the precarious position of the club from which he
has walked away.

Spoilt: Poll is glad Warnock's antics will not be a part of the game any longer

Spoilt: Poll is glad Warnock's antics will not be a part of the game any longer

Referees, fans and — most importantly — footballers just didn’t react in the same way to his smart-alec persona.

Back in April 2003 after that
semi-final defeat, Warnock came into my dressing room to have his
customary complaint; he came into referees’ rooms after virtually every
game.

He ended his tirade by stating to
fourth official Alan Wiley and me that he looked forward to retirement
as he would no longer have to put up with officials like us.

The feeling was mutual, but both of
us retired well before our sell-by date expired. I wonder if, when
reflecting on what has been a successful managerial career, Warnock will
be able to say the same.

Manchester United to win the Premier League – our experts" verdict

Will anything stand in the way of Man United and a record 20th title As Fergie's side sit seven points clear, Sportsmail's experts deliver their verdicts…

PUBLISHED:

11:14 GMT, 27 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

11:56 GMT, 27 December 2012

TODAY'S POLL

Will Man United hold their lead to win the title

Yes

No

VOTE

Man United

POLL RESULTS

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Manchester United are now seven points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League going into the final game of 2012.

The Boxing Day comeback victory over Newcastle – coupled with Man City’s loss at Sunderland – tightened their grip on top spot.

So, just what can stop Sir Alex Ferguson’s side snatching the crown back from City Here, we ask Sportsmail’s team of expert reporters whether they think United can be stopped – and if so, by what…

Late show: Javier Hernandez is mobbed by his United team-mates after his winner against Newcastle

Late show: Javier Hernandez is mobbed by his United team-mates after his winner against Newcastle

IAN LADYMAN

The only team that can stop United winning this title is United. Manchester City’s challenge lacks the conviction of last season and that makes United clear favourites at this stage.

However, United are so unpredictable that I can envisage them dropping enough points to give their rivals a chance between now and the end of the season.

Yesterday’s performance – as thrilling as it was – was riddled with holes. Sir Alex Ferguson’s team once again defended poorly and failed to keep hold of the ball for long periods of time. These are the two issues that threaten United more than any other.

Great United teams smother teams by refusing them the ball. This one struggles to do that which means that their opponents will always have a chance. United are great to watch and have been involved in some breath taking games this season. This, however, only points to vulnerability.

This race is not run yet.

Follow Ian Ladyman on Twitter @ian_ladyman_dm

Leaky: Papiss Cisse scored Newcastle's third goal at Old Trafford on Boxing Day

Leaky: Papiss Cisse scored Newcastle's third goal at Old Trafford on Boxing Day

NEIL ASHTON

After throwing it away last season, there is no way Manchester United will allow the title to slip through their grasp this time around.

As Manchester City’s form begins to disintegrate, the main threat will come from Chelsea, but they have too much to do.

Despite their re-remergence under Rafa Benitez, United have matchwinners across every area of their forward line, which is why they will be crowned champions at the end of the season.

It barely feels like Robin van Persie has properly got going in a United, but he has still scored 13 times in the Premier League. Crucially, it is only 27 per cent of United’s goals and they can rely on Wayne Rooney (7) and Javier Hernandez (6), among others, to add to their attacking threat.

United have had 15 different goalscorers this season in the Premier League, another illustration of their firepower. Their biggest problem is at the back, but they are good enough to get away with it this season.

When Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho are in the Premier League next season it will be a different story.

Follow Neil Ashton on Twitter @neilashton_

Deadly: Robin van Persie struck again for United against Newcastle

Deadly: Robin van Persie struck again for United against Newcastle

MATT BARLOW

Manchester United have a magnificent spirit. The will to win they displayed (yet again) against Newcastle will have a psychological impact on the chasers. Their manager has incredible instinct and unrivalled experience in a title race. With Nemanja Vidic, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones fit again they will get stronger at the back, Robin van Persie will supply a steady stream goals and a seven-point gap will be difficult to close.

Yet not impossible.

Last season, United crumbled, perhaps a hint of inexperience from their younger players. Will this haunt them when it gets squeaky City are not as smooth as they were (won three of nine) but will feel the benefit when European competition starts again, while the real threat may develop from Chelsea, fast-improving under Rafa Benitez.

Chelsea would be eight behind if they won the game in hand (at home to Southampton). They have the Europa League to contend with and face some tough away fixtures, starting at Everton on Sunday. It will not be easy but they are likely to recruit next month.

A quiet confidence is growing at Stamford Bridge (won six of seven) that some of their long-standing problems are being ironed out. Rafa is relishing the prospect of a title duel with Fergie. This one is not quite over yet.

Follow Matt Barlow on Twitter @matt_barlow_dm

On the rise: Juna Mata is inspiring Chelsea's charge up the table

On the rise: Juna Mata is inspiring Chelsea's charge up the table

LEE CLAYTON

Alan Shearer, his wages paid by the taxpayer, told the BBC’s Match of the Day programme: ‘Manchester United will be happy’.

Seven points clear and happy. That’s some revelation.

They can’t defend, the goalkeeper looks less than happy, they’ve had to win 24 points from losing positions… and they’re STILL seven points clear. But surely it can’t be over on Boxing Day.

City are better than that. They have to start scoring soon and Chelsea’s record since losing at West Ham is 26-4 in all competitions and three straight wins in the league. Us neutrals need it to be more exciting, closer, tighter than that.

Maybe it won’t be last-kick-of-the-season-close like last time – and United clearly have it all to lose, as people like Shearer might say – but let’s hope they aren’t runaway champions.

Where is the fun, the drama… and the happiness in that

Follow Lee Clayton on Twitter @leeclayton_

Friendly face: Sir Alex Ferguson shakes hands with club mascot Fred the Red

Friendly face: Sir Alex Ferguson shakes hands with club mascot Fred the Red

DOMINIC KING

Will anything stop Manchester United now In the aftermath of the extraordinary game against Newcastle, it’s an understandable question but it is also highly presumptuous.

In word, there are plenty of factors that can halt United’s title bid. For a start, it would be wrong to dismiss Manchester City as busted flushes. They may not be playing with the same fizz as last season but they have enough class players to embark on a sustained winning run.

The same applies for Chelsea. Rafa Benitez’s side have started keeping clean sheets now and, again, they have excellent players. In this observer’s view, they are the most likely challengers to United and a win at Old Trafford when the teams meet would certainly make things interesting.

Another aspect to consider is United’s defence. They keep conceding goals, they look vulnerable at some point in every game and there will come a point when Robin van Persie doesn’t always rescue them. And what will happen if Van Persie happens to get a lengthy injury

United, unquestionably, are hot favourites for the title and their sustained presence towards the top of the table speaks volumes for their manager’s brilliance.

But are they past the post already Not by a long shot.

Follow Dominic King on Twitter @dominicking_dm

Setback: Man City suffered yet another defeat at Sunderland in a blow to their chances

Setback: Man City suffered yet another defeat at Sunderland in a blow to their chances

JOHN EDWARDS

The way this season has unfolded, it’s easy to see Manchester United letting slip a seven-point lead but difficult to see Manchester City overhauling one. It’s almost as if the two Manchester clubs are doing their best to lose the title race, rather than win it.

United look more vulnerable than for years. Injury problems have caught up with Nemanja Vidic, age with Rio Ferdinand. In midfield, they look distinctly limited by their normal high standards. It would be unthinkable to describe any United side under Sir Alex Ferguson as a one-man band, but where would they be without Robin Van Persie’s goals

City have scarcely been any more convincing. Remaining unbeaten for longer than any other Barclays Premier League side sounds impressive, but the performances behind it were not. The spark just doesn’t seem to be there.

With both teams misfiring, could there yet be an opportunity for Chelsea to break the Mancunian monopoly There surely must be, and if they take it, no-one should be surprised, given three of their back four are England defenders and their attacking creativity is the envy of the land.

They have an even bigger gap to make up, though, and I still expect United’s never-say-die spirit to drag them over the line, if only because Ferguson will demand nothing less.

Follow John Edwards on Twitter @JEAlty

Suspect: Nemanja Vidic (right) is recovering from a serious knee injury

Suspect: Nemanja Vidic (right) is recovering from a serious knee injury

LAURA WILLIAMSON

The only thing that has been consistent about the top half of the Premier League this season is its inconsistency. You can lose three in a row like West Brom and still stay in the top six, concede 28 goals and be seven points clear or experience a supposed crisis a la Arsenal and still be in the mix for a Champions League spot. It's madness.

How Manchester United fare against Real Madrid in the Champions League may impact upon their domestic fortunes, but I can't see anyone putting together a sustained run to challenge Sir Alex Ferguson's side for the title.

United have won 52 per cent of their points after going behind in matches, after all. While that says a lot about their experience, determination and dodgy defending, it says even more about the quality – or not – of the opposition.

Follow Laura Williamson on Twitter @laura_mail

Danger: Much will depend on how United fare against Ronaldo and Real Madrid

Danger: Much will depend on how United fare against Ronaldo and Real Madrid

CHRIS WHEELER

History tells us that United have failed to retain the title at the first attempt only once in the Premier League era. It also shows that when Sir Alex Ferguson’s side hold this kind of advantage at the halfway stage they go on to be crowned champions.

Will it be a similar story this season Probably. Are they unstoppable No.

Ferguson has often bemoaned his team’s tendency to make life difficult for themselves, and there will be a few twists and turns yet.

Manchester City’s early exit from Europe will be an advantage when the Champions League starts up again in February, and United are still conceding far too many goals. Could they afford to lose Robin van Persie to injury

If City and Chelsea are still in contention when the Old Trafford derby rolls around on April 6, it will be very interesting. Three of United’s next four games after that are against Chelsea, Arsenal and away to Stoke. They are definitely favourites but there’s still everything to play for.

Roaring success: Jonny Evans celebrates scoring against Newcastle at Old Trafford

Roaring success: Jonny Evans celebrates scoring against Newcastle at Old Trafford

SAMI MOKBEL

You only have to look at last season to realise the title race is far from done and dusted. Yes, seven points is a pretty sizeable gap but Manchester City have proved they have the minerals to close it – even though it does seem unlikely.

Keeping Robin van Persie fit will be key for United. He’s taken to life at Old Trafford like the proverbial duck to water and his all round game, not just his goals, will be pivotal.

Follow Sami Mokbel on Twitter @samimokbel81_dm

MIKE DICKSON

United’s remarkable resilience and superior firepower to anyone else means they are sure to win the title. The squad deserves a collective horsewhipping if they blow it from here.

Chelsea will come second and Benitez will get the chance to blow some of his owner’s money when he gets the job permanently at the end of the season, with the hate mob (temporarily) silenced.

Mancini will be fired for coming third, while Arsenal will keep Wenger on as they edge Everton for fourth.

Follow Mike Dickson on Twitter @mike_dickson_dm

Under threat: Roberto Mancini may pay a big price if he fails to win the title again

Under threat: Roberto Mancini may pay a big price if he fails to win the title again

COLIN YOUNG

If you were at the Stadium of Light on the final day of last season, you didn’t see Sergio Aguero’s championship winning goal. You just heard about it.

The moment that news came through, the Manchester United players on the pitch had to suffer the very public humiliation of handing the Barclays Premier League trophy to their city rivals. They were mocked by Sunderland fans, and in that moment I felt the destiny this season’s title was decided.

Revenge. That is what motivates Sir Alex Ferguson. he has signed Robin van Persie just to bring even more goals to his side when it matters. And it really matters now and, after seeing them squander so many chances at Sunderland yesterday, it’s hard to see City catching them this season.

Follow Colin Young on Twitter @cyoungdailymail

LAURIE WHITWELL

This has been a highly peculiar season, even by United’s standards, and it can be viewed in two ways. Either you imagine the multitude of goals shipped will eventually prove their undoing or you figure that, as they have consistently shown, even conceding large numbers will prove no obstacle to victory. This United side have a resilience and spirit greater than any I can remember and some attacking displays have been breath-taking.

But they remain egg-shell fragile defensively and that will worry Sir Alex Ferguson. They have allowed 92 shots on target, only four fewer than QPR, and in conceding 28 goals by halfway, they have exceeded season-long totals in title-winning campaigns from 2008/09 (24), 2007/08 (22) and 2006/07 (27).

Undoubtedly Robin Van Persie is a huge player and were he to get injured City and Chelsea would sniff a chance. But goals are coming from everywhere. Jonny Evans and Patrice Evra have six between them this term having scored just three in 10 previous seasons.

Such quirky details, alongside dazzling comeback performances, tell you United want this title back badly and will win it by sheer force of personality.

Follow Laurie Whitwell on Twitter @lauriewhitwell

Helping hand: Patrice Evra (centre) has been a surprise name on the scoresheet this season

Helping hand: Patrice Evra (centre) has been a surprise name on the scoresheet this season

SIMON CASS

There are plenty of reasons why Manchester United are not certainties for the title and not just because I am a bitter Newcastle United supporter!

Take their shaky defence for example, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have conceded more than any other side in the top half and twice as many as at the same stage last season. All very well when Robin van Persie is banging them in at the other end but will the Dutchman stay injury free until the end of the season

And despite seemingly having sown things up by the turn of the year, Ferguson’s men only have one more point than they head this time last year. Given the trials and tribulations of their rivals surely the gap to Manchester City should be greater than seven points. Lest we forget, City were five points back at the beginning of April last year and still did the business on the final day.

This year, Mancini’s men can concentrate fully on staying in touch with their Champions League chasing neighbours while Chelsea’s resurgence under Rafa Benitez means they are not out of it yet. Furthermore, Ferguson is adamant he will not be buying in January while City and Chelsea are sure to strengthen.

There’s still lots of life left in this title race.

Follow Simon Cass on Twitter @simon_cassdm

SAM CUNNINGHAM

What can stop United Well, Fernando Torres has been reunited with a manager who knows him well and knows how to get the most out of him. He’s scored seven goals in nine games under Rafa Benitez and that was after three matches getting his confidence back so that’s seven in his last six.

Add the real goalscoring Torres who was sensational in Spain and lived up to the hype initially when he came to England to Chelsea’s team and they have a side that can catch United. Three of Juan Mata, Oscar, Eden Hazard or Victor Moses behind a striker who can actually score is frightening.

Win their game in hand and Chelsea are eight points off top spot – that’s not out of sight.

Follow Sam Cunningham on Twitter @samcunningham

Robin van Persie kick: Ashley Williams will not be charged by the FA

What will Sir Alex say Swansea skipper Williams will NOT be charged over RVP kickFA won't take any action against WilliamsFergie fumed Van Persie 'could have been killed'Man United boss will not face disrepute charge over his comments

|

UPDATED:

11:17 GMT, 24 December 2012

TODAY'S POLL

Should Williams be banned for his kick at Van Persie

Yes

No

VOTE

Ashley Williams

POLL RESULTS

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The FA have confirmed they will NOT be charging Swansea City defender Ashley Williams for his ugly clash with Robin van Persie at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.

Sir Alex Ferguson called for Williams to be handed a lengthy suspension for slamming the ball into the back of Van Persie’s head from point-blank range when the United striker was lying on the floor after a 74th-minute foul.

Ferguson, speaking after United were held 1-1, went on to claim the incident ‘could have killed’ Van Persie, but the FA confirmed to Sportsmail that no action will be taken against Williams as he was booked at the time by referee Michael Oliver.

Pain in the neck: Van Persie feels the force of Ashley Williams' kick

Head case: Williams lashes the ball against the neck of floored United striker Van Persie

Lashing out: Floored Manchester United striker Robin van Persie feels the force of Ashley Willaims' kick

Ref rage: An angry Sir Alex Ferguson complains to fourth official Lee Probert after the incident

Ref rage: An angry Sir Alex Ferguson complains to fourth official Lee Probert after the incident

It is the policy of the FA not to ‘re-referee’ incidents that have been seen by the match officials.

The FA also said it was ‘highly unlikely’ that Ferguson will be handed a disrepute charge for his comments on the matter.

The United manager had said: ‘The Van Persie situation you can clearly see that he could have been killed.

‘The FA has got to look into it
regardless that he has been given a yellow card. He should be banned for
a long time because that was the most dangerous thing I’ve seen on a
football field for many years.

Seeing red: Van Persie leaps up to retaliate with Williams after the incident

Seeing red: Van Persie leaps up to retaliate with Williams after the incident

Head-to-head: A furious Van Persie leaps up to vent his rage to Williams after the incident

Head-to-head: A furious Van Persie leaps up to vent his rage to Williams after the incident

Pulled apart: The pair had to be separated by their team-mates

Pulled apart: The pair had to be separated by their team-mates

So, was RVP at risk

GRAHAM POLL
Former Premier League referee

Sir Alex Ferguson’s reaction to Ashley Williams kicking the ball that hit Robin van Persie in the 76th minute sounded a little over the top, but Williams could well have been sent off rather than cautioned by referee Michael Oliver.

If, in the opinion of the referee, the ball was deliberately kicked at an opponent and used like a weapon, then he should have been sent off for violent conduct. As it was reasonable for Williams’s actions to be seen as natural in clearing a loose ball from his own penalty area, it was almost impossible for Oliver to determine with any degree of certainty what his intentions were – and so a caution was the sensible decision.

MARK LEATHER
Former Premier League physio

It's unlikely that being hit by the ball could have killed Van Persie. But being struck that hard from such a short distance could have knocked him out. I’ve seen players knocked out by free-kicks struck from 10 yards away.

If you are unconscious, there is then a risk of trauma to the brain. A blow that fierce is like being hit in boxing – the damage is unpredictable. It can lead to internal bleeding and permanent damage, or there can be just an aching head.

‘It was absolutely deliberate. The
whistle has gone, the game has stopped and he has done that right in
front of the referee – he could have killed the lad.

‘It was a disgraceful act by the player, he should banned for a long time.’

Williams played down the incident,
saying: ‘I tried to clear the ball, (but) it hit him on the head. I was
trying to clear the ball. He was obviously a bit angry about that.

‘It was a much ado about nothing.’

He added: ‘I tried to apologise but
there wasn't much time. I didn't see him afterwards. Obviously I would
shake his hand but it is no big deal.

'I just lashed at the ball and I
understand why he is angry but it is not like I am going to shoot and
hit him square on the head.’

The ugly scenes detracted from a thrilling draw. Patrice Evra had put
United ahead after 16 minutes but Michu hit back for Swansea with his
13th Barclays Premier League strike 13 minutes later. United twice hit
the frame of the goal as they tried and failed to restore their
six-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the table.

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez, meanwhile, says Ashley Williams is 'not a nasty footballer'.

He said: 'You see the incident and it is a very, very dangerous situation'.

'If you see one of your players with a bang on the back of the head it is really dangerous and it can have bad consequences. You can understand that.

In the book: Referee Michael Oliver booked Williams but Ferguson is calling for the defender to be banned

Yellow peril: Van Persie was also booked by Oliver for his part in the bust-up

In the book: Referee Michael Oliver booked Williams but Ferguson is calling for the defender to be banned, while Van Persie also received a yellow card for his part in the bust-up

'I signed Ashley Williams for Swansea
and I know his character inside out. I can guarantee you without even
looking at the incident that he is not a nasty footballer.

'He is a winner and fully committed, a
leader and a captain, and I don't for one second doubt that he did not
do that on purpose.

'It is an action of the game. He can
show frustration – it is an emotional game and it is very unfortunate
that it hits Van Persie in a part of the body where he could have been
hurt heavily, and you don't want to see that.

'But from my point of view, I know
Ashley Williams really well – when you sign a player you find out about a
player and I can guarantee you he is not the type of footballer who
would do that on purpose.'

QPR boss Harry Redknapp, speaking ahead of his side's Boxing Day clash with West Bromwich Albion, said of the Williams incident: 'I don't see how he was going to be killed.

'He kicked the ball at him. I have seen worse things on a football pitch.'

Robin van Persie could have been killed, says Sir Alex Ferguson over Ashley Williams kick

Van Persie could have been killed! Furious Fergie calls on FA to BAN Swansea skipper Williams after booting ball at striker's head

|

UPDATED:

17:04 GMT, 23 December 2012

TODAY'S POLL

Should Williams be banned for his kick at Van Persie

Yes

No

VOTE

Ashley Williams

POLL RESULTS

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Outraged Sir Alex Ferguson has urged the FA to take action following Robin van Persie's clash with Swansea defender Ashley Williams which the Manchester United boss believes could have killed his striker.

Fergie fumed after Williams punted the ball into the back of the Van Persie's head while he lay prone on the floor during the clash at the Liberty Stadium.

The Dutchman reacted angrily and squared up to Williams with referee Michael Oliver electing to book both players.

After the match Ferguson said: 'The Van Persie situation you can clearly see that he could have been killed.

Pain in the neck: Van Persie feels the force of Ashley Williams' kick

Head case: Williams lashes the ball against the neck of floored United striker Van Persie

Lashing out: Floored Manchester United striker Robin van Persie feels the force of Ashley Willaims' kick

Ref rage: An angry Sir Alex Ferguson complains to fourth official Lee Probert after the incident

Ref rage: An angry Sir Alex Ferguson complains to fourth official Lee Probert after the incident

'The FA has got to look into it regardless that he has been given a yellow card. He should be banned for a long time because that was the most dangerous thing I've seen on a football field for many years.

'It was absolutely deliberate. The whistle has gone, the game has stopped and he has done that right in front of the referee, he could have killed the lad.

'It was a disgraceful act by the player, he should banned for a long time.'

Williams defended his actions following the match, claiming his attempted clearance wasn't meant to hit the United striker.

He said: 'I just cleared the
ball with frustration and unfortunately it hit him in the head and he
got a bit angry about it.

Seeing red: Van Persie leaps up to retaliate with Williams after the incident

Seeing red: Van Persie leaps up to retaliate with Williams after the incident

Head-to-head: A furious Van Persie leaps up to vent his rage to Williams after the incident

Head-to-head: A furious Van Persie leaps up to vent his rage to Williams after the incident

Pulled apart: The pair had to be separated by their team-mates

Pulled apart: The pair had to be separated by their team-mates

'Everything got a bit heated but it was alright in the end.'

Patrice Evra had given the visitors a 16th minute lead before Michu equalised just before the half hour mark.

Ferguson was angry with Mr Oliver for not awarding his side a free-kick for what he thought was a foul on Van Persie in the build-up to what was Michu's 13th goal of the season.

'It was foul on van Persie, a clear foul,' he said. 'The referee had one of those days where we didn't get anything out of him.

'It was a shocking performance. I know he is a young referee but I was disappointed with that performance.'

In the book: Referee Michael Oliver booked Williams but Ferguson is calling for the defender to be banned

Yellow peril: Van Persie was also booked by Oliver for his part in the bust-up

In the book: Referee Michael Oliver booked Williams but Ferguson is calling for the defender to be banned, while Van Persie also received a yellow card for his part in the bust-up

Ferguson was less critical of his
players and felt they did more than enough to take claim the three
points which would have put them six points clear of rivals Manchester
City at the top of the table.

'Thrown
two points away really,' he added. 'We absolutely battered them. It was
a great performance in the second half. It is unbelievable we didn't
win the match.

'My only criticism is that the final ball at times let us down. “No criticism of the performance, it was very good.'

Sport villains of the year – featuring Roman Abramovich, Joey Barton and Lance Armstrong

Forget Sports Personality of the Year… here's the 12 contenders for Villain of 2012! Barton, Abramovich and Armstrong all feature on our alternative shortlist

|

UPDATED:

15:59 GMT, 16 December 2012

TODAY'S POLL

Who is the sporting villain of 2012

VOTE

Roman Abramovich

POLL RESULTS

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After a golden year of British sport,
it's understandable that tonight's Sports Personality of the Year is
creating so much excitement.

But
it's worth casting our minds back to some of the less impressive
sporting moments of the year, where our sporting heroes have offered
moments of hilarity, humiliation and in some cases downright disgrace.

Cast your vote to crown the villain of the year 2012. The contenders are…

Kevin Pietersen

KP faced a whole lot of controversy after he admitted to sending ‘provocative’ texts to the South African squad about his captain and team-mate Andrew Strauss.

A South African by birth, Pietersen came under fire for an apparent lack of loyalty to the national squad, and further unsettled team-mates with his fascination with the Indian Premier League.

But after much apologising he began his re-integration into the squad during their series in India.

John Terry

The saga began after a clash between Chelsea and QPR in October 2011, where Terry was accused of using racist language to abuse Anton Ferdinand.

This year, the Chelsea captain, who was stripped of the England captaincy, was cleared of a racially aggravated public order offence by a court.

However, the FA went on to find him guilty of misconduct, and proceeded to fine him 220,000 on top of a four-match ban.

‘Improbable, implausible and contrived’ was how the FA’s disciplinary panel described Terry’s defence, and many felt that the punishment had been far too lenient.

John Terry is accused of a racial slur against Anton Ferdinand

John Terry has been handed a four-match ban in 2012 for using abusive language relating to race against Anton Ferdinand

Roman Abramovich

The Russian has sent Chelsea into turmoil this season, sacking Roberto di Matteo after a string of disappointing results.

They were unceremoniously dumped out of the Champions League only six months after winning the trophy under Di Matteo.

Replacement Rafa Benitez has hardly had the warmest welcome and is likely to be on his way as well if Pep Guardiola agrees to take over next season.

So, it is fair to say there is little long-term vision, with Abramovich favouring an expensive and quick-fix solution over anything that requires a long-term investment.

But after saving them from near bankruptcy and using a billion pounds from his own pocket to finance the club, he can run the club how he likes – success or no success.

Roman Abramovich celebrates winning the Premiership with Chelsea

The Chelsea boss has gone through nine managers since taking on Chelsea, and recently sacked Roberto di Matteo

Trenton Oldfield

The
boat race may often be ridiculed by those without a double-barreled surname, but there was little sympathy for Oldfield, who sabotaged the race by swimming across the path of the oncoming boats in a protest
against elitism.

If
the act itself wasn’t enough to anger both the crews and supporters, the
smug grin plastered on the Australian’s face as he was led away by
police certainly did the trick.

Cambridge
went on to win the race, but after an Oxford oar was snapped following a
re-start and the Dark Blues bow Alexander Woods collapsed in the boat
at the finish line, there was a distinctly subdued air over the win.

The presentation ceremony was cancelled and there was little celebration from any of the crews. Oldfield was jailed for six months in October.

Michel Platini speaks at a conference at the National Stadium in Warsaw

Michel Platini has proposed that Euro 2020 be held at stadiums all over the continent

Michel Platini

The Frenchman is nothing if not ambitious. His proposal of a ‘Euros for Europe,’ with matches being played across the continent in different cities, is certainly novel.

But it has been criticised by fans who feel that it shows a complete disregard for their enjoyment, and an unfortunate focus on money and TV revenue.

The shambles that was the bidding process for Euro 2020, in which Platini expressed a preference for Turkey before their bid was deemed unviable, led to a lack of options for the UEFA president.

Host countries were thin on the
ground, with few being able to afford the new financial burden.

Cynical
observers have suggested that this cross-continent proposal might be
down to Platini’s hopes for the FIFA presidency in 2015.

It is another blow after his decision to extend the Euros from 16 to 24 teams from 2016 – diluting the standard of what is a brilliant tournament.

Frankie Dettori

The Italian was handed a six-month ban by French racing authorities this year after failing a drugs test.

The drug was taken during what Dettori called a ‘night of madness’ with his friends when the jockey’s career was at a low ebb.

He will return to the saddle in May, hoping to redeem himself on the racecourse, but the 42-year-old has expressed concern that his reputation will never recover.

Frankie Dettori was banned for six months by French authorities after taking drugs

The Italian jockey received a six-month ban for taking a drug, suspected to be cocaine, during a 'night of madness.'

Lance Armstrong

Has ever a hero fallen so hard as Lance Armstrong It is hard to recall anyone who has made such a leap from being respected to disgraced.

The cancer-surviving cyclist had all seven of his Tour de France titles stripped this year after the US Anti-Doping Agency accused him of running ‘the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen.’

Armstrong, while maintaining his innocence, chose not to fight the report produced by the USADA.

But while the strides he made on the bike have now been called into question, the efforts he made to aid cancer research will remain perhaps his greatest achievement.

Although he has now stepped down as the head of Livestrong, the $500million that he helped raise remains.

David Haye and Dereck Chisora

A bit of trash talk is to be expected surrounding bouts in professional boxing, but David Haye and Dereck Chisora took it a step too far in a press conference back in February.

The conference was actually being held after a clash between Chisora and Vitali Klitschko in Munich.

But Haye managed to steal attention by goading the heavyweight from the back of the room, prompting Chisora to square up to the Brit.

Punches were thrown and although the pair should have known better than to enter into a brawl with the world’s press watching, the conference soon descended into chaos.

Haye did manage to redeem himself slightly when the two fought a grudge match in July and Chisora was resoundingly beaten.

Warning: This video contains strong language

Voula Papachristou

The Greek athlete is another to have learned the dangers of Twitter the hard way.

The
triple-jumper was ejected from the national team and sent home from the
Olympics after making a joke that many deemed offensive.

Her tweet read: ‘With so many Africans in Greece, at least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat home made food!’

Despite
apologising for the tasteless comment, which followed a number of
tweets expressing far-right political views, the Greek Olympic Committee
said her statements had been ‘contrary to the values and ideas of the
Olympic movement,’ and she was sent home.

Greek athlete Voula Papachristou during the women's triple jump in Athens

Greek athlete Voula Papachristou was expelled from the Greek national team at this year's Olympics after tweeting offensive comments

David Nalbandian

There have been few tennis players able to rival John McEnroe’s infamous on-court tantrums.

David Nalbandian did manage to surpass the American in terms of actual damage caused this year however.

In a moment of anger during his final match against Marin Cilic at Queens this summer, the Argentine lashed out at some advertising boards around the chair of a line judge.

Nalbandian underestimated his own strength unfortunately, and ended up being disqualified after the boards went flying into the linesman’s legs, leaving him with a deep cut.

The 30-year-old was fined 6,400 by the ATP for unsportsmanlike conduct, as well as losing his 36,500 prize money.

He offered a sincere apology following the incident, saying: ‘It is a mistake and I have to pay for that.’

Joey Barton

Perhaps not a villain, but more of a village idiot, Barton amused us once again in 2012 with some bizarre press conference antics.

It’s usually his Twitter account that gets people talking. Or violent conduct on the pitch. Or drunken brawls.

Anyway, this year hilarity was caused when Barton appeared in a press conference for Olympic Marseille, and curiously mimicked a French accent.

Earlier in the year there was less amusement when Barton received his second red card of the season for QPR and proceeded to attack Manchester City players, kneeing Sergio Aguero and attempting to head-butt Vincent Kompany.

Barton was typically contrite on Twitter afterwards, tweeting: ‘Still not my proudest moment but who gives a f***, we are safe……….and that is all that matters.’

Joey Barton attacked Manchester City players after receiving his second red card of the season

Joey Barton caused trouble as well as amusement in 2012, attacking Manchester City players after receiving a red card

Eight Olympic badminton players

This was a combined effort at bad behaviour during the Summer Games.

In an attempt to avoid facing harder opponents, four duos tried to make sure they didn’t finish top of their group by losing their last game in the group stage.

A Chinese pair, four players from South Korea and a duo from Indonesia were all dropped from the competition after their poor display of sportsmanship and suffered a severe reaction from a disappointed crowd.

Gareth Bale should have been sent off – Graham Poll

Bale is not yet in Ronaldo's class (for diving) but he should have been sent off at Fulham

|

UPDATED:

23:01 GMT, 2 December 2012

Gareth Bale is unquestionably a brilliant player. He is a superb athlete who makes and scores goals for Tottenham and Wales.

As a result he is understandably a marked man – but by opponents or referees

His fourth caution for simulation in two seasons makes him the worst offender in the eyes of referees but his manager claims he is being unfairly victimised as his reputation is going before him.

Sarcastic: Gareth Bale was booked for diving against Fulham

Sarcastic: Gareth Bale was booked for diving against Fulham

More from Graham Poll…

Graham Poll: Sportsmail's expert guide to the referees in charge of this weekend's big games
30/11/12

Sportsmail's expert guide to the referees in charge of the big midweek games
27/11/12

Graham Poll: Foy should know there are consequences for ignoring dissent… just ask Bernie Angell
25/11/12

Sportsmail's expert guide to the refs in charge for this weekend's big games
23/11/12

Graham Poll: Throw the book at Chelsea after false Clattenburg claim
22/11/12

Graham Poll: Adebayor had to go, but 'Jekyll and Hyde' Suarez should also have seen red
18/11/12

Sportsmail's expert guide to the refs in charge for this weekend's big games
16/11/12

Sportsmail's expert guide to the refs in charge for this weekend's big games
09/11/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

I was called by a Spurs fan who claimed
that Bale’s caution for diving on Saturday at Fulham was a scandalous
decision. I watched the highlights with interest.

Irrespective of whether you think the decision right or wrong, I think all would have to agree that at the pace it was played and the amount of contact with the opponent being questionable, it was a very difficult decision.

Andre Villas-Boas raised a fair and valid point when he said that Bale has suffered a lot of injuries and often tries to avoid contact as the pace he plays at leaves him susceptible to knocks even after slight contact. It is also very difficult for him to keep his balance at such electrifying pace.

Referees will be looking for unnatural falls and the way Bale goes down is dramatic and often not consistent with the amount of contact.

There are obvious comparisons with former Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo, who in his early days at Old Trafford also used to hit the turf on a regular basis.

Having refereed both, I have to say that they are different players at different points in their careers. Ronaldo was new to English football, having come from Portugal where players going to ground is an accepted practise – he thought that was right. Bale understands the Premier League and the expectations within it.

Referees need to study the DVDs of Bale very closely and think about their approach towards him. Why, for example, would he dive in a neutral position in midfield

Tumble king: Cristiano Ronaldo, now at Real Madrid, used to hit the turf with regularity while at Man United

Tumble king: Cristiano Ronaldo, now at Real Madrid, used to hit the turf with regularity while at Man United

Could it be that he is wary of getting
injured and is pulling out of challenges – not to ‘con’ the referee into
giving a free-kick, but to avoid injury

Is he appealing for the free-kick or just getting up and on with the game After all, when a referee is unsure there is nothing wrong with playing on in such a situation.

Perhaps a meeting between a senior referee and Bale and his manager would help each other see the opposing viewpoint. At that meeting, I would hope that the referee’s side would point out that whatever the decision, Bale should not applaud sarcastically as he did on Saturday. That should have resulted in his dismissal for a second caution.

Good week for… Mark Clattenburg

He made a brilliant and vital decision at the Emirates on Saturday. As Oliver Giroud appeared to go clean through, Chico Flores made a great tackle and clipped the ball away from the Frenchman, who then went to ground. Without seeing the contact, Clattenburg would have had to give a free-kick and send Flores off. His communication was excellent and explained the reasons for his decision clearly.

Good week: Mark Clattenburg had a tricky call to make and acted appropriately

Good week: Mark Clattenburg had a tricky call to make and acted appropriately

Bad week for… Platini and co (again!)

A pulsating first half at Reading was almost spoiled because there is still no goal-line technology in place. Robin van Persie ‘scored’ Manchester United’s fifth goal of a crazy half but it was not given due to the pace of the ball. There’s no blame on the assistant or referee because it is almost impossible to say for CERTAIN when watching live that the ball was over the line. It ‘probably’ was or ‘I think it was’ is not enough. When will this crazy situation be resolved

James McClean refuses to wear a poppy

McClean refuses to wear poppy on eve of Remembrance Sunday as Sunderland suffer defeat

|

UPDATED:

10:07 GMT, 11 November 2012

TODAY'S POLL

Should James McClean have worn a poppy shirt

Yes

No

VOTE

McClean

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Controversial Sunderland winger James McClean refused to wear a poppy in the 2-1 defeat at Everton.

All Sunderland and Everton players wore the specially commissioned shirts featuring a poppy on the chest as part of the Remembrance Sunday commemoration.

Sunderland have been one of the leading clubs in acknowledging the annual event and were one of the first to commission the shirts and auction them for the Poppy Appeal.

Not for me: James McClean did not have a poppy sewn onto his shirt during Sunderland's match at Everton

Not for me: James McClean did not have a poppy sewn onto his shirt during Sunderland's match at Everton

But the Londonderry-born Republic of
Ireland international asked to wear his usual shirt when he was recalled
by Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill for today’s clash at Goodison.

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill,
who was also born and brought up in Derry, and played for Northern
Ireland, wore a poppy on his post-match suit but did not wear one on his
training kit during the defeat for Sunderland, who have still not
won at Goodison since 1996.

Respectful: The entire Everton team and McLean's Sunderland team-mates wore poppies and observed the minute's silence before the game

Respectful: The entire Everton team and McLean's Sunderland team-mates wore poppies and observed the minute's silence before the game

Respectful: The entire Everton team and McLean's Sunderland team-mates wore poppies and observed the minute's silence before the game

Respectful: The entire Everton team and McLean's Sunderland team-mates wore poppies and observed the minute's silence before the game

Sunderland have distanced themselves from McClean's decision and have again given their full support to the appeal.

A club spokesman said: 'As a club
Sunderland AFC wholeheartedly supports the Remembrance Commemorations.
It was James’ personal choice not to wear a shirt on this occasion.'

The 23-year-old former League of
Ireland midfielder, who broke into the Sunderland squad following
O'Neill's appointment at the Stadium of Light less than a year ago, has
been embroiled in controversy in the last 12 months as a result of his
Republican views.

He upset fans of Northern Ireland
when he switched allegiance for the Republic, despite playing at
under-age for the country of his birth, and then exacerbated the
situation when he posted abusive and sarcastic tweets aimed at people in
the North.

McClean finally came off Twitter at
the start of this season, to the relief of O'Neill, after he sent
abusive tweets aimed at Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni when he was
left out of their World Cup qualifier in Kazakhstan.

However, McClean has now re-opened his Twitter account but was urged by the club to stay off the social media site and not get embroiled in the debate which was gathering pace after the game.

/11/10/article-2231071-15F54526000005DC-493_634x419.jpg” width=”634″ height=”419″ alt=”One up: Adam Johnson took the lead for Sunderland during their defeat on the eve of Remembrance Sunday ” class=”blkBorder” />

One up: Adam Johnson took the lead for Sunderland during their defeat on the eve of Remembrance Sunday

The England Under 21 international
wrote: 'Support for the troops past and present before game today is
great! We should be proud of our troops!'

Sunderland’s stand-in captain John O’Shea was pictured without his poppy shirt in the second-half of the game but the former Manchester United defender changed his shirt at half-time, which is a common practice among professionals.

Now you see it: John O'Shea

Now you don't: John O'Shea

Quick change: John O'Shea wore his poppy shirt in the first-half, but changed it for the final 45 minutes

Sunderland issued the one-off shirts to auction for funds for the Royal British Legion and several players changed shirts at the break, as is normal practice.

Republic of Ireland international O’Shea, who was stand-in captain in place of Lee Cattermole, carried a wreath to the centre circle before the game with Phil Neville and was accompanied by three members of the armed forces.

A minute’s silence was impeccably observed at all grounds.

A Premier League spokesman said: ‘We have great support from the clubs. It is a matter of choice whether people wore the poppy.’

McClean is now on international duty with the Republic of Ireland, ahead of their home friendly against Greece, and is unlikely to comment on his decision not to wear the poppy shirt.

But many Twitter followers jumped to his defence last night and, like former England captain Rio Ferdinand, many feel McClean was within his rights to take a personal decision not to wear a garment supporting a cause that he cannot.

McClean was bought from Derry City, his home club, where his insatiable desire to become a Premier League footballer stood out in one of the most deprived areas of the United Kingdom and Ireland.

He was brought up on the Creggan Estate, close to the scene of the Bloody Sunday massacre in 1972. Two years ago Prime Minister David Cameron apologised for the murder of 14 civilians at the hands of British soldiers.

Tottenham fans told by police "Yid Army" is ok

EXCLUSIVE: Sing what you want! Police back Spurs fans over 'Yid Army' chant after racism claims

|

UPDATED:

14:29 GMT, 8 November 2012

TODAY'S POLL

Do Tottenham fans have right to chant 'Yid Army'

Yes

No

VOTE

Tottenham

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Metropolitan Police have reassured Tottenham they will NOT face prosecution over their own supporters use of the word 'Yid' in matchday chants.

The police have clarified their stance over whether the club's supporters could be investigated for making racial slurs given the anti-Semitic nature of the word 'Yid'.

Club supporters often sing songs featuring the expression, and on Thursday the club released a statement defending their fans right to use the expression.

And the Met have advised Tottenham chants such as 'Yid Army' will not lead to prosecution on the basis that it is used with no 'deliberate intention to cause offence'.

Spurs' conversations with police come after the Society of Black Lawyers threatened to report the club to the police if they were not seen to be doing more to ensure the term is no longer used.

Scroll down for video

A 'Yid Army' Spurs flag

Tottenham Hotspur fans celebrate in the stands

Traditional support: A Tottenham fan cheers on his side at Wembley during 2008's Carling Cup victory

Jermain man: Defoe limbers up during Spurs training session at their Enfield HQ

Jermain man: Defoe limbers up during Spurs training session at their Enfield HQ

SPURS STATEMENT

'The club does not tolerate any form of racist or abusive chanting.

'Our guiding principle in respect of
the “Y-word” is based on the point of law itself – the distinguishing
factor is the intent with which it is used ie if it is used with the
deliberate intention to cause offence.

'This has been the basis of
prosecutions of fans of other teams to date. Our fans adopted the chant
as a defence mechanism in order to own the term and thereby deflect
anti-Semitic abuse. They do not use the term to others to cause any
offence, they use it a chant amongst themselves.

'The club believes that real
anti-semitic abuse such as hissing to simulate the noise of gas chambers
is the real evil and the real offence. We believe this is the area that
requires a determined and concerted effort from all parties and where
we seek greater support to eradicate.'

Chairman Peter Herbert originally said that if chants including the
word continue, he would ask police to bring a prosecution for racism.

The club responded with a strong
defence of their supporters’ use of the word but Herbert has blasted back, accusing the supporters of casual racism.

‘The argument sounds like it is 40
years old,’ he said. ‘I’m deeply saddened that a football club that
represents such a diverse area has taken such a view. I don’t want to
have to take my children to a football match and expect to hear
anti-Semitic chants.

‘Tottenham Hotspur Football Club
obviously just don’t get it. It’s almost like saying if a woman refers
to another woman in a derogatory fashion then it is OK.’

Herbert added: ‘What we are trying to
do is change a culture. What we are saying to Tottenham is, “Maybe this
was OK 50 years ago – but it isn’t now”.

‘Even if it comes from Tottenham
supporters, it remains casual racism. We understand it is a difficult,
and for some an uncomfortable, stance to take, but we feel it is the
right stance.’

Smiles better: Tottenham's William Gallas Emmanuel Adebayor and Jan Vertonghen during a training session

Smiles better: Tottenham's William Gallas Emmanuel Adebayor and Jan Vertonghen during a training session

Tottenham then issued an impassioned defence of their fans’ right to use the term ‘Yid’ in their matchday chants.

Spurs are steeped in Jewish tradition and large sections of their support refer to themselves as ‘Yids’ in matchday songs.

In a
statement: ‘The club does not tolerate any form of racist or abusive
chanting.

'Our guiding principle in respect of
the “Y-word” is based on the point of law itself — the distinguishing
factor is the intent with which it is used, i.e. if it is used with the
deliberate intention to cause offence.

High profile: Incidents involving John Terry and Luis Suarez brought focus on racism in football

High profile: Incidents involving John Terry and Luis Suarez brought focus on racism in football

High profile: Incidents involving John Terry and Luis Suarez brought focus on racism in football

Baddiel

Baddiel

Lineker

Lineker

Herbert

Herbert

SOCIETY OF BLACK LAWYERS' PLAN

A minimum six to nine-month ban for racial abuse, rising to a five-year ban for a third offence

Any fines going directly to Kick It Out to fund grassroots anti-racism initiatives

The creation of representative associations for black players, managers and coaches

Guidance for referees to send off players using racist abuse and the power to call off games where the crowd is using such abuse

A 20 per cent quota at all levels of the FA, PFA, clubs as well as football agents and referees

Racial abuse to be a matter of gross misconduct incorporated into players’ contracts

Clubs to invest in the personal education of all players, including university or college education

Recording referees and assistants during matches to pick up any possible abuse by players.

A
system for reporting racial incidents to be set up with details of
these incidents, both on and off the pitch, published each year

'This has been the basis of
prosecutions of fans of other teams to date. Our fans adopted the chant
as a defence mechanism in order to own the term and thereby deflect
anti-Semitic abuse. They do not use the term to others to cause any
offence, they use it as a chant among themselves.

‘The club believes that real
anti-Semitic abuse such as hissing to simulate the noise of gas chambers
is the real evil and the real offence.

‘We believe this is the area that
requires a determined effort from all parties and where we seek greater
support to eradicate.’

Former Spurs stars Gary Lineker and Ledley King have previously condemned the mimicking of the gas chambers by away supporters.

Tottenham have traditionally been
well supported by members of the Jewish community. Many fans do not
consider references to their faith as offensive. Others,such as comedian
David Baddiel, however, do.

Last year Baddiel
launched a campaign, supported by Lineker, to stamp out use of the word 'yid' in football
chants which mock Jewish and Tottenham supporters.

The Society of Black Lawyers is involved in talks to create a Black Players’ Association
with some professionals, claiming the football authorities are not doing
enough to represent them or to tackle racism in the sport.

The PFA recently introduced its own six-point action plan but the society says this will prove 'ineffective'.

SUPPORTER COMMENT: SORRY BUT THE Y-WORD BELONGS TO US

As a youngster growing up supporting Spurs, it took me some time to realise the word 'yid' was an offensive racial slur. I'd never heard it used in a derogatory sense at White Hart Lane, only ever as a collective term – yid army – and as a positive identifier.

If a player was good, he was a yiddo.

But its significance soon became apparent. Though far from the abhorrent gas chamber hissing of some away fans, it's still sensitive. Context is important, though, and its reclamation as a positive term at the ground should not be ignored.

The Society of Black lawyers says use of the word yid, including the tone adopted by Spurs fans, amounts to casual racism. Perhaps they have a point. Perhaps simply substituting the word would be the answer. But Spurs fans are unlikely to take kindly at being told what to do by an external body, especially as it is largely considered a positive, rather than offensive, chant.

David Baddiel tried to stamp out its use by Tottenham supporters but, despite his own Jewish faith, the views of a Chelsea fan were never likely to be accepted by the Spurs majority.

If the word yid really is to be kicked out of White Hart Lane, it would need concerns to be raised from within the Spurs-supporting community, rather than outside pressures.

Andrew Magee, life-long Spurs supporter

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Peter Herbert is getting it wrong with Spurs warning over "Y word"

Shut up, Peter! Herbert's getting it all wrong with warning to Spurs fans over 'Y word'

|

UPDATED:

11:55 GMT, 8 November 2012

So Peter Herbert has the misguided arrogance to tell Tottenham fans we 'just don't get it' when it comes to racist chanting

Here is a chant you might be more comfortable with, Peter: sit down, shut up.

When Herbert, the chairman of the Society of Black Lawyers, threatened to report Tottenham to the police if they didn't report anti-Semitic chanting, it was assumed he meant the hissing of rival fans.

A 'Yid Army' Spurs flag

Tottenham Hotspur fans celebrate in the stands

Traditional support: A flag at Wembley during 2008's Carling Cup victory and a fan cheers on Spurs

TODAY'S POLL

Do Tottenham fans have right to chant 'Yid Army'

Yes

No

VOTE

Tottenham

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When it emerged that this included home fans chanting the 'Y-word' (as we are now ridiculously calling it), the club released a concise and rational retort.

'Our guiding principle,' the club statement read, 'is based on the point of law itself, ie if it is used with the deliberate intention to cause offence.'

End of argument Apparently not.

Herbert's reply went as far as to tell Tottenham they 'just don't get it', and that 'even if it comes from Tottenham supporters, it remains casual racism'.

No, it absolutely doesn't. Being part of the Yid Army is a badge of honour at White Hart Lane. It is chanted with a raging pride.

Euro test: Spurs are preparing for Thursday's night's clash with Maribor

Euro test: Spurs are preparing for Thursday's night's clash with Maribor

Enough is enough: Peter Herbert

Enough is enough: Peter Herbert

The best chants make every fan at the
club feel as one and the crucial point is this is one of them,
regardless of race, colour, creed or favoured formation.

In the context of White Hart Lane, Spurs fans own the word.

Within that stadium the word refers to a footballing identity, not a religion or race.

Yes, the chant has its roots in the Jewish heritage of North London and the word, of course, has historical baggage – but not for 90 minutes on a Saturday it doesn't.

Although I fully admire Herbert's grand ambition to rid football of racism, the way he is going about it is deluded, misguided, self-promoting and so damaging to the very cause he is trying to promote. They've got this one badly wrong.

Incidentally, he was also the man who lodged the police complaint over referee Mark Clattenburg's alleged abuse of John Mikel Obi, only I've checked the footage and he wasn't there.

I will do everything I can to help his fight against racism, but insulting the Yid Army has marginalised his loudest supporters.

Which isn't bad for a day's work.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo new boots

Ronaldo 'tired' of Messi comparisons… but who's the king of the new boots

|

UPDATED:

09:28 GMT, 7 November 2012

TODAY'S POLL

Ronaldo or Messi: Who gets your vote as world's best

Ronaldo

Messi

VOTE

Ronaldo/Messi

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Cristiano Ronaldo may be sick and tired of being compared to Lionel Messi but the pair go head to head once again – in the footwear department.

Just as the Real Madrid superstar earns himself a Nike special edition line of footwear his Barcelona rival makes the Adidas F50 his own.

In contrast to their perceived characters the Argentine's are more garish – a lurid yellow while Ronaldo's Mercurial Vapor VIII CRs are mostly black on top.

Lionel Messi shows off his new Adidas F50 boots

Lionel Messi shows off his new Adidas F50 boots

In action: Cristiano Ronaldo used his new boots as Real Madrid drew with Borussia Dortmund

In action: Cristiano Ronaldo used his new boots as Real Madrid drew with Borussia Dortmund

Trial run: Messi wears his boots ahead of the clash with Celtic on Wednesday

Trial run: Messi wears his boots ahead of the clash with Celtic on Wednesday

But flip over the Nike boots and you find a neon pink base – that's more like the Ronaldo we know.

And on the back of Ronaldo's boot is a little symbol which depicts a heart (to show his love of winning) as well as a cross (representing his hatred of losing, apparantly).

The two players are the favourites for the Ballon d'Or which is awarded in January to the player recognised as the world's best during 2012.

Bright: Flip over Ronaldo's boot and there is a neon pink underside

Bright: Flip over Ronaldo's boot and there is a neon pink underside

Fit for the best player in the world Maybe only Messi could pull off this colour

Fit for the best player in the world Maybe only Messi could pull off this colour

Ronaldo tried to play down his rivalry with Messi on Tuesday.

He said: 'The truth is I'm a little tired of it (being compared). It's a little heavy but I'm used to it. I don't like to compare myself with others.

'Messi and I are different, that's for sure. I respect him a lot.

'Messi can win (the Ballon d'Or) but so can Xavi or Iniesta. And we cannot forget (Didier) Drogba or Falcao. They can also receive the trophy.'

Neither player seemed set to vote for each other with Ronaldo claiming on Monday he would vote for himself if he could.

Messi meanwhile said he was planning on voting for Xavi, Iniesta and one of Angel Di Maria or Sergio Aguero.

Logo: Ronaldo's heart with a cross logo is on the heel

Logo: Ronaldo's heart with a cross logo is on the heel

Schematics: An artistic depiction of Messi's new footwear

Schematics: An artistic depiction of Messi's new footwear