Andre Marriner to referee Premier League decider between Manchester United and Manchester City

  • @simonrice

A week today will see the most crucial Manchester derby in Alex Ferguson's 25 year tenure at Old Trafford, at least that's how the Manchester United manager has described it.

Three points separate the sides with just three games to go. Victory for City will see them top the table on goal difference. Victory for United will see them virtually guarantee their 20th league title.

When the two sides come together, there tend to be fireworks. Over the last five meetings between them, there have been three red cards and 27 yellow cards.

So when you throw in the fact the match appears to be a Premier League title decider, forget fireworks, there appears to be the potential for a nuclear explosion.

The man appointed today to referee next week's match at the Etihad Stadium is Andre Marriner.

The 41-year-old from Sheldon in the West Midlands has taken charge of three of United's matches this season, the most noteworthy being their game at Anfield after which Patrice Evra levelled his racism allegations at Luis Suarez.

It will be the first time he has been the referee for a City game this season.

Marriner was in charge of the derby at Old Trafford last season, in which Wayne Rooney scored a late, spectacular overhead kick to propel United to victory.

This season he has brandished five red cards, including one for Blackburn's David Dunn in the infamous Lancashire derby with Wigan at the DW Stadium in November, when he allowed a goal for the visitors to stand after Morten Gamst Pedersen had taken a corner to himself.