We've taken foot off the pedal, there's no edge, says Sir Alex Ferguson

Manchester United manager says side lacks desire and Luiz 'rolled around like dying swan' to get Rafael sent off

Sir Alex Ferguson conceded that his title-winning Manchester United team had lost their “edge” having been beaten in the last three minutes by Chelsea, a result which takes Rafa Benitez's team closer to their goal of Champions League qualification.

Chelsea won the game with a shot from Juan Mata which was deflected in off Phil Jones and later credited to the Manchester United defender by the Premier League, but it was the outspoken nature of Ferguson's criticism of his own side afterwards that gave a true picture of the game.

"We have taken our foot off the pedal in a big way, there was no edge to our game," Ferguson said. "I think Chelsea deserved to win. Unfortunately it's controversial, it always is when you play Chelsea, it's happened quite a lot of times, but we can't complain, we didn't play well enough."

While Ferguson agreed that Rafael Da Silva deserved to be sent off for kicking out at David Luiz in injury-time at the end of the game he said that the player had been retaliating to an elbow from his opponent.

Ferguson said: "He [Rafael] retaliates but he [Luiz] quite clearly elbows him twice then rolls about like a dying swan, and that convinces the referee. He was smiling, it's bad. What kind of professional is that?

"It was rash what he did, he's a young lad and should know better but retaliation never works.

"I wouldn't say it was violent conduct. The referee hasn't even seen it, I don't think he could see it at all but he has gone with the fact that Luiz has rolled about on the floor and I think that has convinced him it was a red card."

He added: "I don't think it was a foul [on Wayne Rooney in the build-up to the goal], we weren't getting anything from the referee anyway. It was a bit of a lucky goal, it deflected off Phil Jones so we had bad luck with that. I can't make any excuse for my players in terms of performance. The referee's decisions went against us I thought, they surrounded the referee all day, four and five players all the time and I think that affected the referee."

Later, in an interview with MUTV, Ferguson blamed the South American football culture for Luiz's reaction. He said: "The referee has been bought by the fact Luiz has rolled about. He has actually elbowed him [Rafael] twice, Luiz. It is quite clear on the camera.

"Whether the referee will do anything about it I doubt it very, very much, Howard Webb won't be bothering himself about that. He was certainly elbowed but you know what happens when a player retaliates: he gets punished the most and that is what happened.

"He [Luiz] rolled about. You see that a lot with European, foreign players and South Americans. He did roll about and made it look worse. I don't think the referee has seen it. He has been convinced by Luiz's reaction."

The win for Chelsea means that if they beat Tottenham Hotspur at home on Wednesday they will be all but guaranteed a top-four finish and Champions League football next season, regardless of what happens in the final two games by virtue of goal difference. Now third in the league, they were without Eden Hazard yesterday who has a calf problem and is a doubt for Wednesday's game.

Benitez said it was a "massive result" for his team. He said: "We knew we had to get six or seven points to guarantee a finish in the top four. We have got three points here and now we play against Tottenham and we are in the driving seat. Hopefully we can stay there until the end."

Petr Cech described the winning goal as a "massive moment". He said: "After the results [of Arsenal and Spurs] on Saturday we knew that we had to win and we have a massive game on Wednesday against Tottenham.

"Now we go into the game three points ahead of them and if we win that game we leave them behind so this was a massive moment and changed the preparation for Wednesday."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy