Sir Alex Ferguson escapes FA punishment despite half-time rant at referee Mike Dean

Manchester United manager was furious with overruled decision
  • @simonrice

Sir Alex Ferguson has escaped punishment from the Football Association despite confronting referee Mike Dean at half-time during Manchester United's 4-3 victory over Newcastle.

The Scot was furious with Dean after he overruled assistant Jake Collin and awarded Newcastle's second goal.

Ferguson was seen to approach Dean as he made his way out for the second half. The Manchester United manager also rounded on fourth official Neil Swarbrick before arguing with assistant Collin.

However the FA have said no action will be taken as Dean made no reference to Ferguson's tirade in his match report.

The incident that so incensed Ferguson was Jonny Evans' 28th minute own goal. Collin had flagged for offside against Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse but Dean overruled the decision.

The Premier League went as far as issuing a clarification, backing Dean's decision, confirming that "as Cisse did not play the ball, then he was not interfering with play".

However, Ferguson saw things differently, arguing after the match: "The referee changed the linesman's mind.

"He said it was an own goal. But if you see it again, and the referee can't, the guy is in an offside position, then he pulls Evans' arm.

"If that is not interfering, what is? I think it was a bad decision."

Dean could have sent Ferguson to the stands during the match, but did not deem the measure necessary.

Evans' own goal saw United trail 2-1 but they were to come back and win the match 4-3, with Javier Hernandez scoring a 90th minute winner.

Rio Ferdinand has demanded United sort their defensive problems out before they start to undermine their season. United have now conceded 28 goals this season, only five fewer than Queen's Park Rangers who are languishing at the foot of the Premier League table.

To put that into context, at the half way point of the campaign, they have now exceeded the number of goals they conceded in three of their most recent title-winning seasons – 2007, 2008 and 2009. In all competitions, that figure now stands at 40, during which time they have kept just four clean sheets. All of which bodes ill for United's Champions League last-16 tie with Real Madrid, and everyone in the United camp admits they must find a solution.

"We are concerned," said Ferdinand. "When you are conceding goals at any level you want to put it to a stop. This season we have let in far too many goals and we need to change that. We need to make a big effort now to push on. We are in a good position but if we are to maintain where we are, we need to sort ourselves out."

Ferdinand's words were echoed by central defensive colleague Evans, who feels it is only a matter of time before United finally resolve their defensive issues. "We know what is going on," he said. "Defending is a mindset. You have to be mentally prepared to defend and want to defend. We have just been concentrating too much on scoring goals. Instead of getting off to good starts we have killed ourselves a little bit by conceding sloppy goals.

"The good thing is we are scoring, which is the hardest part of football. We have been doing that freely so I am sure the more simple part of keeping clean sheets will come."