Ferguson in new referee row

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The Independent Football

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will find out within the next 48 hours whether his latest confrontation with officialdom has landed him in even more hot water.

On the face of it, Ferguson's attack on referee Chris Foy for the amount of injury time he added on to United's surprise FA Cup defeat against League One Leeds was not the most heinous of crimes.

However, with a two-match touchline ban still hanging over him as a legacy of his tirade at Alan Wiley earlier this season, Ferguson might have been better advised not to make his views known.

Indeed, as Foy did play five extra minutes and United hardly deserved to wreck Leeds' dreams of a first Old Trafford win since 1981, it merely disguised an abysmal afternoon.

"The referee gave five minutes," complained Ferguson. "That is an insult to the game and the players out there."

Not as great an insult as what passed for a United performance.

Having wasted no opportunity to stress what high regard he holds his young players in, it came as a bitter disappointment to see them fail to perform quite so obviously.

Passes went astray regularly, mostly when there was no opposition player applying any pressure, shot after shot sailed past the Leeds goal and the inventive moments were rare.

All in all, it was a pretty sorry way for Ferguson to suffer the first third-round exit of his entire United career and for the Red Devils to find themselves beaten by lower league opposition in this competition for the first time since Harry Redknapp's Bournemouth did it in 1984.

"I am shocked by the performance because our preparation for the game was very good," said Ferguson.

"But we never got going. The quality of the passing and whole performance was bad."

So bad in fact, Jermaine Beckford's first-half effort was enough to secure Leeds a fourth-round trip to Tottenham, leaving the Old Trafford outfit to lick their wounds ahead of Wednesday's Carling Cup semi-final trip to nearby Manchester City when, Ferguson insists, there will be changes.

"You have to get over these kind of results quickly," he said.

"We have a semi-final on Wednesday night but a lot of these players won't be playing," he said.

"You have to view that performance in its right light."

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