Sir Alex Ferguson claimed that Andy Carroll should have been sent off for his first-half challenge on David de Gea at a corner that saw the Manchester United goalkeeper flattened in his own area.
Having watched his side come from behind twice to claim a 2-2 draw at Upton Park, Ferguson was also outspoken in his criticism of referee Lee Probert whom he accused of being insufficiently “strong” in the face of West Ham's aggression. It did look like Carroll might partly have been pushed into De Gea by Nemanja Vidic in the incident in question.
Asked about the challenge, Ferguson said: “I think it's obvious. I don't think you dwell on that... it's an obvious red card but the referee has seen it differently.” Asked on Sky Sports about whether he had seen that Robin van Persie had been offside for his goal, Manchester United's second equaliser, Ferguson gave the impression he was not. “Really?” he replied.
Ferguson said: “We kept going were down twice and came back. We played like champions I thought, magnificent, in terms of determination, courage to play. I was pleased with the result.
”We know how they [West Ham] play, the ball is in the air most of the time and you have to defend those things. They are very, very aggressive, as we have seen, you hope there's a strong referee and I am not so sure we got that.
“David has improved all the time all season and he is developing into a fantastic goalkeeper,” Ferguson added. “It's experience of the English game. He is getting strong and his training performances are really good. He's shown that again. We have been saying for a while now he has developed into a fantastic goalkeeper.”
The Manchester United manager, whose first goal was scored by Antonio Valencia, substituted Wayne Rooney with more than 20 minutes to play. His side now have a 13-point lead and could still win the title against Arsenal at the Emirates a week on Sunday, if Manchester City drop sufficient points by that stage.
Sam Allardyce, whose side's goal were scored by Ricardo Vaz Te and MMohamed Diamé, criticised the failure of the officials to spot that Van Persie was offside. “I think it was a big decision that has possibly taken a famous victory away from us,” he said. “To play as well as we did ... it leaves us bitterly disappointed.”
Allardyce said that Carroll was “committed” in his challenge for the ball for the corner in the first half in which he ran into De Gea and that it was unrealistic to expect him to “stop dead”. “You cannot commit on a corner and set off running and then even when you are not going to get the ball stop dead. As you know when you are travelling in your car at 60 mph it takes you 300 yards to stop. With Andy going at 15mph he can't stop dead. It was never a red card for me, a yellow perhaps.”