Referees must make right calls says Michael Carrick

Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick has urged officials to get the big decisions right in important matches.

As the Red Devils now prepare for Sunday's visit to bitter rivals Liverpool, a fresh examination of their Premier League credentials is emerging.

And with Arsenal breathing down their necks, Sir Alex Ferguson's team can ill afford any more slip-ups.

Ferguson heaped the responsibility for United's 2-1 defeat by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last night onto the shoulders of referee Martin Atkinson.

Carrick backed up his boss and said: "Some decisions didn't go our way and we're on the end of a defeat, which is very hard to take.

"You have to get big decisions right in games of that importance."

The criticism of Atkinson over his failure to send David Luiz off for tripping Wayne Rooney immediately before awarding Chelsea their match-winning penalty for a debatable Chris Smalling foul on Yuri Zhirkov drew a stinging rebuke from Ferguson.

Although the United boss might have kept his counsel and reflected on the changing fortunes of a game that should have left him playing with just 10 men at Wigan three days earlier, Ferguson opted to let fly with both barrels.

"You want a fair referee, or a strong referee anyway - and we didn't get that," he said.

"I must say, when I saw who the referee was I feared it. I feared the worst."

Given the United boss already has the remaining two matches of a four-game touchline ban hanging over him following scathing comments about Alan Wiley's fitness last season, a further spell in the stands appears inevitable if misconduct is proved.

The FA have until 6pm tomorrow to charge Ferguson, although that may just fuel a sense of injustice at Old Trafford ahead of what is now a vital trip to Liverpool on Sunday when far more than local pride will be at stake.

United - four points in front of Arsenal having played a game more and a trip to the Emirates still to come - cannot afford to drop points.

Liverpool, improving under Kenny Dalglish until their shock defeat at West Ham, are suddenly seeing the avenues to next season's Europa League being blocked off let alone a Champions League place. It makes for a fascinating duel.

"We feel pretty down but we can move on quickly. We have to," said Carrick.

"We're used to doing it and normally we are good at it. That is the nature of the beast.

"We move on and we take a lot of positives from tonight and look to put things right that didn't go well.

"Sunday is obviously a huge game and we'll be ready for it. We have to be."

United will be missing key players.

Rio Ferdinand's absence with a calf injury is about to extend into a second month, while his normal central defensive partner Nemanja Vidic is suspended.

That means a rare start in the middle for Wes Brown, whose appearances have been limited this term.

One of the obvious reasons for that is the form of Smalling, who despite conceding Chelsea's penalty, produced another mature display at Stamford Bridge.

Sunday promises to be his toughest test though, given both the magnitude and importance of the occasion, plus the fact he has not played alongside Brown before.

Indeed, Brown's last Premier League outing in the centre came against West Ham in February last year.

Little wonder Dalglish is giving serious consideration to handing Andy Carroll an eagerly-awaited debut at a time when Ferguson's options are severely limited through injury.

At least United do have options in attack, with Rooney finally hitting goalscoring form, his latest effort taking his tally for the season to eight and his current run to five in five games.

"It was a super finish," said Carrick of Rooney's 20-yard thunderbolt.

"He got it out from under his feet. It was great to see it go in."

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice