Ferguson blasts back at Dalglish and Taylor over referee criticism

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The Independent Football

Manchester United's manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, last night hit back at attacks from Kenny Dalglish and Graham Taylor over his attitude towards referees.

"People have short memories," Ferguson told United Review. "Kenny Dalglish looked to be lecturing me in the papers about the need to respect referees, perhaps forgetting that not so long ago his players were tweeting critically all over the place about Howard Webb." Ferguson was referring to Liverpool's reaction to United's 1-0 win in an FA Cup third-round meeting in January. Dalglish described referee Howard Webb's decisions to award United a penalty and dismiss Daniel Agger for a foul on Dimitar Berbatov as a "joke".

Later, the former Liverpool winger Ryan Babel, since sold to Hoffenheim, was fined £10,000 for putting a doctored photograph of Webb in a United shirt on the social networking site Twitter.

Turning his attention to Taylor, Ferguson said the former England manager's opinions as a pundit did not compare favourably to his own conduct while in charge of the national side during a 1994 World Cup qualification defeat by Holland. "I was disappointed with Graham Taylor, who wrote that I had to take 'the rough with the smooth'," Ferguson added.

"I think back to when he was England manager and was complaining to a linesman: 'The referee has got me the sack'."

Taylor had accused Ferguson in the Daily Express of "rank hypocrisy" and claimed that "sometimes his conduct is not what you would expect of a managerof his stature".

Ferguson faces a Football Association charge for criticising Martin Atkinson following last week's 2-1 loss to Chelsea. After watching Chelsea take all three points at Stamford Bridge on 1 March, Ferguson said the match had required a "fair" official and that he had "feared the worst" as soon as he realised Atkinson would be in charge.

Interviewed after the FA had charged Ferguson with improper conduct for those comments, Dalglish said he and his staff adhere to the Respect campaign that urges managers to support officials.