FA lets Ferguson off hook after latest rant

United manager escapes further charge over criticism of referee in Anfield defeat
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The Independent Football

Sir Alex Ferguson will escape any Football Association punishment over his comments about the referee Andre Marriner following Manchester United's defeat to Liverpool on Sunday. The United manager is already awaiting a date for a personal hearing over his attack on referee Alan Wiley's fitness this month.

As United contemplated the fallout from their 2-0 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield, their second of the season, Patrice Evra added his voice to that of his manager who was critical of Marriner's performance. Yesterday morning, the FA considered Ferguson's suggestion that Marriner, a Premier League referee for six years, did not have the "experience" to handle the occasion, but decided it did not break the rules.

After his manager stopped short of openly condemning Marriner, Evra questioned the referee's decision over Jamie Carragher's challenge on Michael Owen. Asked whether he believed that the official's decisions had gone against United, Evra said "definitely". "Maybe the penalty [for Carragher's challenge on Michael Carrick in the first half], but I didn't understand the yellow card given to Carragher.

"Against Owen, he was the last man and didn't get sent off. Just a yellow. But a minute later, he sent off Vida [Nemanja Vidic]. I don't think the referee has an easy job, but I think he made some mistakes.

"It [the Carragher decision] was important because, when you play 11 v 10, you have an advantage and it is difficult to understand why Carragher wasn't sent off. Maybe it was a factor, but I would rather focus on United and the performance was poor."

Evra will be one of those senior players rested tonight when United play in the Carling Cup against Barnsley at Oakwell. Ferguson has struggled to give playing time this season to the likes of Danny Welbeck, Federico Macheda and Darron Gibson, who has struggled with injuries of late. He is expected to send a young team to Yorkshire but with some experienced players on the bench.

Evra said that the defeat to Liverpool was similar to the two games against them last season. "It was a bad day, the same as last year. We played the same way and didn't show the Manchester United spirit," he said "The idea was to play our football, but we didn't do that and I don't know why. Liverpool were aggressive in everything, but we just didn't have the right attitude to play our football and it is very frustrating to lose the game.

"The atmosphere wasn't a factor. We have played a lot of times at Anfield and have players with experience, so it is not about the atmosphere. For professional footballers, you are happy to play at a place like Anfield and not scared. We just didn't play our game.

"Losing to Liverpool is the most pain you can have when you play for Manchester United. It's a great feeling when you win at Anfield, but it's also a big pain when you lose. We now need two or three days for recovery. After the game in the dressing-room, there was silence and big disappointment.

"We need to show the same as last year now. We lost against Liverpool twice, but won the league. So we have to make sure we do that, but also, at Old Trafford we have to show the real United team."

The decision over Fernando Torres's suitability to play in the game was made by Rafael Benitez after discussions with the striker on the coach on the way to the stadium, but the player admitted that he had not been completely fit. He suffered an injury to his adductor muscle during a international for Spain against Armenia and only played with a pain-killing injection.

Torres said: "I was not 100 per cent fit but I wanted to play and it was worth it. We knew it was going to be a risk and I felt some pain in some of the movements that I made before but during the game it was OK. I just wanted to play so much. When the team is losing you just want to help."

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