Arsene Wenger was yesterday charged with improper conduct by the Football Association for calling Manchester United's Ruud van Nistelrooy a cheat after Arsenal's 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford on 24 October. The Frenchman has until 18 November to respond to the charge, and faces a possible fine and official censure if found guilty.
No further disciplinary action against anyone else from Arsenal or Manchester United will arise from the Old Trafford match, or from events in the tunnel afterwards, because of lack of evidence.
As The Independent reported last week, United's chief executive, David Gill, and Arsenal's vice-chairman, David Dein, agreed a "ceasefire" deal in a telephone conversation nine days ago. Both clubs subsequently submitted evidence to the FA about the tunnel fracas, in which Alex Ferguson was pelted with food. Unsurprisingly, post-ceasefire, by the time the evidence arrived at Soho Square, it had shrunk from "dossier" proportions to almost nothing, and the FA was powerless to act.
The charge against Wenger was treated as a separate matter because the Arsenal manager clearly said in a BBC TV interview: "We know how Ruud van Nistelrooy behaves. He can only cheat people - we know him very well."
Despite the fact that Van Nistelrooy received a three-match ban for scraping his boot down Ashley Cole's leg in the match on 24 October, the FA made the distinction that that was not cheating, but mere violence. Therefore any defence by Wenger that Van Nistelrooy was evidently cheating will be dismissed.
Wenger's charge is likely to be greeted with private glee at Old Trafford, not least by Ferguson, who learned yesterday he faces no disciplinary action for some controversial post-match comments of his own, made on Sunday. After the Manchester derby, Ferguson openly criticised referee Graham Poll's failure to award United two penalties.
"One of my players would have to be hit by an axe to get a penalty at the moment," Ferguson said. "I've seen the two incidents again and they were both penalties." It is understood that the FA considered this outburst only "borderline improper" and declined to charge Ferguson.
In further fall-out from the derby, the FA yesterday asked Manchester City and the Greater Manchester Police to examine claims that City's Robbie Fowler made obscene gestures at Old Trafford. If there is enough evidence, Fowler will be asked to explain himself before a decision is taken on whether he should face a misconduct charge.
It was a busy day for the FA as Bolton Wanderers appealed against the sending-off of Jussi Jaaskelainen for denying Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink a goalscoring chance during the 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough on Sunday.
Allardyce believes that full-back Ricardo Gardner was close enough to cover for the keeper. An FA spokesman said: "The club have submitted an appeal for wrongful dismissal and that will be heard on Friday."
If the appeal fails Jaaskelainen will be suspended for Bolton's home game against Aston Villa on Saturday. Allardyce added: "Jussi will be a big, big miss for us."
Allardyce has also warned El Hadji Diouf to curb his provocative behaviour. The Senegalese forward made few friends at Boro with his confrontational tactics. Diouf was booed for over-reacting to challenges, constant time-wasting and being aggressive towards his opponents Tony McMahon and Ray Parlour. "He's getting people agitated and infuriated and he needs to control that side of his character because it will do us and him no good in the end," Allardyce said.Reuse content