The Swansea City defender Ashley Williams insisted that he had tried to apologise to Robin van Persie for an unintentional clearance into his head which left a furious Sir Alex Ferguson declaring that the player was a "disgrace" and that he could have broken the Dutchman's neck.
"It is his opinion," Williams said. "I obviously cleared the ball and it hit him on the head. I understand why he is angry. I tried to apologise but there wasn't much time. I didn't see him afterwards and obviously I would shake his hand [if I had the chance] but it is no big deal. I just lashed at the ball and I understand why he is angry but it is not like I am going to shoot and hit him square on the head."
Ferguson's fury compounded his feelings of injustice on an afternoon when he alluded to 27-year-old referee Michael Oliver's youth in condemnation of his officiating. Ferguson implied that Williams should have been sent off after his 74th-minute clearance struck the grounded striker in a crowded area, as United pushed for a winner. "Robin van Persie is lucky to be alive. It was a disgraceful act from their player today and he should be banned by the FA," the United manager said. "Robin could have had a broken neck." Ferguson also felt that there had been a foul on one of his players in the build-up to Michu's equalising goal, for which his defence left the striker unmarked to score.
"It was just one of those games. He is a young referee, but really, what a performance," Ferguson said. He could find himself in hot water with the Football Association over his insinuation that Oliver's youth may have made him less competent to referee.
"We absolutely battered them and we are very unlucky," Ferguson added. That hardly reflected Swansea's contribution, which was capped by the equaliser from the £2m Michu. His strike meant that he equalled the record of 13 Premier League goals before Christmas by an overseas player in their debut season, set by City's Sergio Aguero last season.
"He is a goalscorer," the Swansea manager, Michael Laudrup, said of Michu. "But the last 15 minutes he had to play centre midfield because we had to make some changes. That's his mentality and that's very good for the team. When he works for the team he works; when he scores, he scores."