Ferguson to escape more punishment for bad day

Manchester United 1 Newcastle United 1

Old Trafford

A poor weekend is not expected to turn any worse over the next few days for either Sir Alex Ferguson or Saturday's referee Mike Jones in the wake of the latter's horribly misjudged decision to award Newcastle a match-saving penalty, converted by Demba Ba, and the Manchester United manager's reaction to it. Jones's assistant John Flynn, who convinced him that Rio Ferdinand had tripped Hatem Ben Arfa, when the tackle was a perfectly fair one, may not be so fortunate and could carry the disciplinary can.

Ferguson, who still refuses to attend any press conference after League matches, gave broadcast interviews to the BBC, Sky Sports and United's in-house television channel, the suggestion being that MUTV may have used an edited version to protect him. Last season he briefly stopped speaking to the station after footage they used led to a touchline ban for his comments about referee Martin Atkinson. The strongest remarks on Saturday came on Sky, when he said: "Whether he ever gets a game again, the assistant referee, is not for me to decide, but it was an absolutely shocking decision."

Although infringing rules, as many managers still do, by commenting on officials, that statement clearly qualifies as fair comment. The United manager and the half-dozen players who swarmed round Jones and Flynn were adamant that the referee should have overruled his assistant, but his predicament was plain: although confident enough of his own sight-line to have instinctively indicated a corner-kick, he knew Flynn's full-on view of the incident was a better one and therefore decided to trust his colleague's judgement.

Guidance given to referees is that they can change their mind about a decision on the word of linesmen or the fourth official, but that penalties can only be awarded when one of the four is 100 per cent convinced. The wider benefit will be another boost to the urgent demand for video assistance, although Ferguson said on Friday that he doubts whether even the possible introduction of goal-line technology could be pushed through in time for next season, as the Football Association surprisingly hinted last week.

As for the wider context of Saturday's game, when an opposing goalkeeper and centre-half are emerging as the obvious contenders as man of the match, the ball is being scraped off the line and only crossing it as a fluke, and one of the worst decisions of the season goes against you, then, as Ferguson said in one of his calmer moments, it begins to feel like "just one of those days". The danger for United is that too many more of those and the prospect of pushing Manchester City as hard for the League championship as in the two-horse race of 1968 will quickly recede.

Newcastle, of course, had a part to play on that occasion, losing 4-3 at home on the final day to City, who therefore took their most recent title by two points. Last week Alan Pardew's team were well beaten 3-1 in east Manchester, and in truth they could have suffered a similar sort of defeat on Saturday, but there was much to admire in their football during the first half and defiance in the second after Jonas Gutierrez was rightly sent off. Fabricio Coloccini summed up the spirit with his determination to play despite suffering a back spasm the day before the game, thus enabling his back-four to maintain their unchanged record this season. Alongside him Steven Taylor was again a colossus and Danny Simpson, once of United, denied his former club with a stunning goal-line clearance from Javier Hernandez, who knew little about the goal credited to him with a deflection off Taylor and was then fractionally offside as he tapped in during added time.

Defeat would have been particularly hard on the young Dutch goalkeeper Tim Krul, of whom Pardew admitted: "I thought when I first arrived here he still had a lot to do. His first little spell in the team he looked a bit nervous but this year we gave him the belief that he's No 1 and had a chance – 'go and take it'. And really he hasn't put a foot wrong this season, he's grown from strength to strength."

Scorers: Manchester United Hernandez 49. Newcastle United Ba pen 64. Substitutes: Man United Macheda (Evra, 87), Smalling (Fabio, 90). Newcastle Sammy Ameobi 5 (Obertan, 65), Perch (Guthrie, 74), Lovenkrands (Ben Arfa, 80).

Booked: Man U Fabio. Newcastle Cabaye, Guthrie, Ben Arfa.

Sent off: Newcastle Gutierrez (78).

Man of the match S Taylor. Match rating 8/10.

Possession: Man United 53% Newcastle 47%.

Attempts on target: Man United 13 Newcastle 6.

Referee M Jones (Cheshire). Att 75,594.

election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'