Ashley Young feared Manchester United team-mate Rio Ferdinand would be attacked by fan

Support slipped after walking onto pitch

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The Independent Football

Manchester United winger Ashley Young fears team-mate Rio Ferdinand might have been attacked at Manchester City yesterday had a fan not slipped as he made his way towards the defender.

The FA have already vowed to take action following the "unacceptable" scenes which followed United's winning goal in their 3-2 triumph.

Ferdinand was struck by a coin thrown from the City supporters before home goalkeeper Joe Hart stepped in to prevent the United man being confronted by a fan who came on to the pitch as order was being restored.

"If the pitch hadn't been so wet when the fan came on and he slipped over, he could have attacked Rio," Young told MUTV.

"When Wazza (Wayne Rooney) was trying to take his corner there were so many objects being thrown on to the pitch, and the one that hit Rio could have taken his eye out.

"It is not nice to see that. Hopefully that will be dealt with."

Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor believes the incidents show there is a case for putting netting up around areas of the pitch for the protection of players.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I think you've got to give consideration to possibly, as has been suggested, some netting in vulnerable areas, be it behind the goals and round the corner flags."

The Football Association has branded the incidents "unacceptable".

"It is disappointing that after a great game and advert for the Premier League that we are discussing this issue," an FA spokesperson said.

"We will work with the clubs and authorities to identify those responsible and support the strongest sanctions available, including life bans.

"We condemn any such acts and it is simply unacceptable that any player is exposed to injury in this way. To witness Rio Ferdinand leaving the field with a cut above his eye to receive treatment is appalling.

"Football in this country has made great progress over recent decades.

"However, we must maintain the safety and security inside of our stadia and to do this we need to isolate and identify any individuals guilty of offences with strong penalties to act as a deterrent to others."

When Ferdinand, who was able to complete the match, left the pitch after the final whistle he was seen to have an object in his hand which he showed to referee Martin Atkinson before he threw it to the ground.

A message on Ferdinand's official Twitter account posted at 4.34pm read: "what a result,3points! Sweet! Whoever threw that coin,what a shot! Can't believe it was a copper 2p....could have at least been a £1 coin!"

He later added: "Respect to Joe Hart for protecting that idiot who ran on!! Love the banter between fans but there is a point when it goes too far...calm it!"