Under-fire Ferguson brings President Obama into referee debate

Updated 9:46 AM EST, Fri December 28, 2012
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson vents his fury during his team
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson vents his fury during his team's 4-3 win over Newcastle at Old Trafford.
PHOTO: Getty Images

Story highlights

Alex Ferguson defends himself after fierce criticism from Newcastle manager Alan Pardew

Manchester United manager says only person not to have a view on saga is U.S. President

The Scot hits out at Pardew and calls Newcastle a "wee club in the North East"

Ferguson will not face any punishment for his behavior during 4-3 win over Newcastle

(CNN) —  

Alex Ferguson is in siege mode. The manager of soccer club Manchester United has been so stung by widespread criticism of his actions this week that he claims the sole person not to have commented is Barack Obama – and that’s only because he’s busy trying to stop the U.S. economy falling over a fiscal cliff.

Ferguson, who recently gave a talk on his management techniques at Harvard, has been under fire following a verbal exchange with referee Mike Dean and his assistants during Wednesday’s controversial 4-3 win over Newcastle.

It led to Newcastle manager Alan Pardew claiming that Ferguson should have been punished for his protests over Dean’s failure to disallow Jonny Evans’ own-goal for what he believed to be offside.

The Scot was furious that Dean overruled his assistant, Jake Collin, who had flagged to give Papiss Cisse offside before Evans diverted the ball into his own net.

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Ferguson, who turns 71 on December 31, will escape punishment from the English Football Association because the incident was not mentioned in the referee’s report, much to Pardew’s astonishment.

It was the second match in four days where Ferguson has courted controversy, having claimed that his striker Robin van Persie “could have been killed” after Swansea’s Ashley Williams kicked a ball at his head in Sunday’s 1-1 draw.

And the United manager has defended his conduct, stating that everybody is suddenly keen to have an opinion – apart from the man inside the White House.

“The problem for me and Manchester United is that the profile of the club is huge,” Ferguson told reporters.

“Alan Pardew has come out and criticized me. Alan Pardew is the worst at haranguing referees – his whole staff (do it) every game. He was at it for the whole game on Wednesday.

“He shoves the linesman and laughs about it and he has to cheek to criticize me. It is unbelievable. He forgets the help I gave him, by the way.

“The press have a good field day. They have addressed every possible angle, the only one they have not asked is Barack Obama – he is too busy.

“It’s unfortunate that I carry that, because I’m the manager of the biggest club in the world. I’m not like Newcastle – a wee club in the North East.

“That is the facts of life. I was demonstrative but I was not out of order. That has been overplayed by the press. You’ve all had a field day.”

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Ferguson was reacting after Pardew had given his views on the incident at Old Trafford.

Pardew told reporters: “I think Mike Dean might feel slightly disappointed he didn’t do something about it.

“I think the pressure that was on him was tough for a referee to take. Sometimes when you reflect on a game you think you might have acted differently. You do that as a manager and I think he might have done that as a referee.

“But it’s an emotional game and apparently they had a cordial discussion. I’ve had a few of those myself and sometimes I’ve ended up in the stands as a result of that cordial discussion.”

Ferguson seemed particularly irked by the comments, and referred to Pardew’s own altercation with a referee during a Premier League match in August.

Van Persie ‘could have been killed’

Pardew was fined $32,000 and given a two-match touchline ban after pushing an assistant referee during his side’s 2-1 home win over Tottenham.

“Some managers shove linesman on the pitch and make a joke of it. I’m not making a joke of this. I think it should have been disallowed, I really do,” Ferguson said.

“There was no ranting and raving from me. I was demonstrative but then I am always demonstrative – everyone knows that. I’m an emotional guy.

“What happened was that Dean was walking towards the center circle and I came up to the touchline and he came towards me and I went towards him. I was not on the pitch for more than three or four yards. Then we came off together.”