Belfast Telegraph

Di Matteo: Criticism is nothing new

Roberto Di Matteo dismissed attacks on Chelsea as "nothing new" after Sir Alex Ferguson became the latest rival manager to take them to task over the Mark Clattenburg furore.

Manchester United boss Ferguson finally had his say on the third major race row to rock English football in recent times on Friday and he did not pull his punches, saying there was "no way" referee Clattenburg would have used "inappropriate language" towards Blues midfielder John Obi Mikel during his side's stormy Barclays Premier League win at Stamford Bridge last Sunday.

Chelsea are arguably under fire like never before, but Di Matteo said: "People comment about the way we play, the way we deal with issues. It's nothing new. It's been happening for years. It's not a surprise."

Ferguson was the latest big-name manager to weigh into the debate, with Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger also critical and Leeds' Neil Warnock - who was in charge of QPR when John Terry racially abused Anton Ferdinand - even more scathing.

Di Matteo added: "I'm not playing a victim here - every team that is successful will be talked about. It's nothing surprising for us that all the people talk about Chelsea. We're going to continue on our road.

"We respect other people's views and comments, but believe in what we do. We believe we behave correctly and will try to continue like that. We have an objective in front of us and are going to continue to work for that. If other people have different objectives or opinions, it won't influence us."

Ferguson poured scorn on Chelsea's claim, declaring: "It didn't happen."

Police and the Football Association launched formal investigations into the European champions' allegations, something Press Association Sport understands the referee strenuously denies.

Chelsea submitted a dossier of evidence to the FA containing signed witness statements from players, who allege Clattenburg used a term understood to have been interpreted as racist, but that simply did not wash with Ferguson, who revealed none of his players heard anything untoward.

"I have had my run-ins with referees over the years, and I have been fined for it too," he said. "It is just unthinkable what's happened in the last week. If it is proved right, that is a different issue altogether - you can't support the indefensible. But the situation as I see it, my personal feeling is, it didn't happen."


From Belfast Telegraph