Manchester City will today learn the outcome of their appeal against captain Vincent Kompany's controversial dismissal during the FA Cup tie with Manchester United, though last night all the signs were pointing to it failing.
City must prove referee Chris Foy made a "serious and obvious error" in dismissing Kompany, though given that Wolverhampton Wanderers failed to get Nenad Milijas's red overturned after what looked like a relatively innocuous challenge on Mikel Arteta last month, the prospects of a reprieve appear to be thin.
The FA's fast-track procedure means City are likely to know the outcome by this afternoon and can begin preparing for tomorrow's Carling Cup semi-final against Liverpool without Kompany. Though City's appeal runs the risk of having his four-game ban extended to five, City do appear to have a case. Wolves did not exacerbate their own situation when they unsuccessfully appealed against the Milijas decision.
Roberto Mancini's claim that Wayne Rooney signalled to Foy to send Kompany off was rejected by Sir Alex Ferguson, who declared at the Fifa Ballon d'Or gala in Zurich: "I have no concerns about the behaviour in that respect because to my mind it was a reckless challenge and Nani is a very lucky boy because he didn't get a bad injury. I have no complaints about Wayne, I don't think it was unacceptable what he did. I think it was a natural reaction to a bad challenge from an opponent.
"But I can understand where Roberto's coming from because that's what happens with players today, they all appeal for penalties or players to be sent off, it's an unfortunate part of our game."
Rooney himself said on Twitter: "Funny how people think i got kompany sent off. Im not ref. i didn't give red card. But it was a clear red card. 2 footed tackle."
Kompany's fury was captured on footage of him leaving the field. "Unbelievable. Unbe-fucking-lievable, wow," he said. Mancini buttonholed Foy at half-time, and said: "Watch it and tell me if you did well. Look well."
City, who are also deprived of Kolo Touré by the African Cup of Nations, wrote a clause into the loan deal that saw Dedryck Boyata leave for Bolton, which allows them to take him back in an emergency. But with Stefan Savic and Pablo Zabaleta both able to fill the breach, they are unlikely to do so.