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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor