Pitchside four-letter tirade earns FA charge

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, was yesterday charged with misconduct by the Football Association following the outburst that saw him sent to the stands during the Premiership match against Newcastle United at St James' Park at the weekend.

It was inevitable that Ferguson would be called to task for his petulant kick of the ball and his four-letter tirade at the fourth official, Jeff Winter, which resulted in the referee, Uriah Rennie, ordering the manager from the touchline.

Ferguson's disgust at Rennie's failure to award a free-kick and send off Andy O'Brien after the Newcastle defender had brought down Ryan Giggs when the Welshman was clear on goal, was obvious enough, but it is the manner in which he continued the protest that seems certain to attract punishment.

The FA can hit Ferguson with a fine, a ban, or both, although with United not due to play at Old Trafford again until the visit of Arsenal on 21 September, they have plenty of time to act.

Ferguson has been given 14 days to respond, although by then he will almost certainly have angered FA officials even more by pulling Paul Scholes out of the England squad for the Euro 2004 double-header with Macedonia and Liechtenstein.

A year ago, Ferguson withdrew Scholes from a friendly with Portugal, claiming the player was not fit, only to play the midfielder in a Premiership game with Middlesbrough before the England match and he is set to cross FA officials again.

Ferguson is set to be without Scholes for six weeks as the player requires a hernia operation. While Scholes has been plagued by the problem for "a few weeks", Ferguson believes the injury worsened during his international absence last week.

And, while Scholes is set to play against Southampton this weekend, he seems certain to have surgery almost immediately afterwards, particularly as his six-week recovery period straddles two international breaks.

"We told the England people about it but they still played him for an hour [against Croatia]. When he came back he was in a real state," revealed the United manager.

"He will need an operation at some point but we will have to pick our moment."