Belfast Telegraph

Furious Fergie and Manchester United in heap of trouble

By Jim Gracey

Angry Sir Alex Ferguson faces a possible Football Association charge after he questioned the integrity of referee Martin Atkinson in the aftermath of Manchester United's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea last night.

The result blew the Premier League title race wide open. And to make matters worse for United, sent off skipper Nemanja Vidic misses Sunday’s crucial trip to bitter rivals Liverpool.

It left Ferguson furious that Chelsea defender David Luiz had not been sent off for a cynical challenge on Wayne Rooney. He was also disgusted that Atkinson had awarded Chelsea a late penalty, for a foul by Chris Smalling on substitute Yuri Zhirkov, which Frank Lampard converted to earn his team a vital victory.

The United manager has a history of criticising Atkinson, and was handed a severe warning after comments he made in 2008.

But that did not prevent Ferguson from launching into another onslaught following their second league defeat of the season.

Ferguson said: “It's hard to take; we didn't deserve that. You hope you get a really strong referee in games like this.

“It was a major game for both clubs and you want a fair referee, you know... you want a strong referee anyway and we didn't get that. I must tell you that when I saw who was refereeing it, I feared the worst.”

Ferguson's comments will almost certainly bring FA action.

The defeat leaves United still four points ahead of Arsenal who have a game in hand.

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