Belfast Telegraph

Officials must get the big calls right, blast Manchester United

Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick has urged officials to get the big decisions right in important matches.

As the Red Devils now prepare for Sunday's visit to bitter rivals Liverpool, a fresh examination of their Premier League credentials is emerging.

And with Arsenal breathing down their necks, Sir Alex Ferguson's team can ill afford any more slip-ups. Ferguson heaped the responsibility for United's 2-1 defeat by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge onto the shoulders of referee Martin Atkinson.

Carrick backed up his boss and said: “Some decisions didn't go our way and we're on the end of a defeat, which is very hard to take. You have to get big decisions right in games of that importance.”

The criticism of Atkinson over his failure to send David Luiz off for tripping Wayne Rooney immediately before awarding Chelsea their match-winning penalty for a debatable Chris Smalling foul on Yuri Zhirkov drew a stinging rebuke from Ferguson.

Although the United boss might have kept his counsel and reflected on the changing fortunes of a game that should have left him playing with just 10 men at Wigan three days earlier, Ferguson opted to let fly with both barrels.

“You want a fair referee, or a strong referee anyway — and we didn't get that,” he said. “I must say, when I saw who the referee was I feared it. I feared the worst.”

Given the United boss already has the remaining two matches of a four-game touchline ban hanging over him following scathing comments about Alan Wiley's fitness last season, a further spell in the stands appears inevitable if misconduct is proved.

The FA have until 4pm on Friday to charge Ferguson, although that may just fuel a sense of injustice at Old Trafford ahead of what is now a vital trip to Liverpool on Sunday when far more than local pride will be at stake. “We feel pretty down but we can move on quickly. We have to,” said Carrick. “We're used to doing it and normally we are good at it. That is the nature of the beast.

“We move on and we take a lot of positives from tonight and look to put things right that didn't go well. Sunday is obviously a huge game and we'll be ready for it. We have to be.”

Rio Ferdinand's injury and Nemanja Vidic’s suspension means a rare start in the middle for Wes Brown.

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