Date: 4th November 2007 at 12:30pm
Written by:

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Howard Webb favoured Arsenal yesterday. He could not be more wrong, unfortunately, though it’s true the man with the whistle did not have a particularly good game.

“I think Howard Webb has a great chance to be the top referee but today was a big game for him and, at times, he favoured Arsenal,” Fergie told the News of The World.

“Their second goal came from a free kick for a foul on Louis Saha on the far side. It should have been for us.

“But it is very difficult for the referee. On our bench, we were getting terrible abuse from people two or three feet away.

“There`s a lack of security here. It is absolutely disgraceful the abuse you and your staff take.

“All sorts of things are being shouted and screamed at you and there is an absolute danger here. Something has to be done.

“The referee can sometimes get caught up in that and it is easy to give decisions to them.

“It is difficult to come here and be completely fair.”

Oh my god. Now it is a rant of such extreme stupidity that I feel ashamed. First, the foul on Saha: it did happen, I managed to find it – but it was more than a minute before the goal itself and we had more than enough time to retrieve the ball or clear it away. Claiming that it affected the result is sheer stupidity.

As for Webb, he did not have a really good game but it wasn’t bad either. He blew his whistle too often and blew for foul at innocous challenges that are commonplace in British football but got the crucial decisions right. Vidic v Hleb – could have been a penalty if Hleb falls at once but he’s gone down long after Vida had let him go. Clichy v Hargreaves: the left-back fired the ball straight at the midfielder’s arm from about 20 inches. Anyone who says this constitutes deliberate handball need their brains checked.

Security: Sir Alex, I know for a fact that you have visited a lot of English stadiums. You must have noticed that the supporters are all close to the dug-out and to the bench and therefore are in perfect position to shout vicious abuse at managers and referees. Old Trafford is no different. If nutters sit in those places then it’s the same at every arena. It is the price for the lack of running track which would otherwise distance the pitch from the stands and quell the atmosphere.

And he could even be in trouble for his comments as Patrick Barclay called for him being punished. I must say that though bald Pat is probably not the most likeable man of the country, I found myself pretty much agreeing with him.

‘I didn’t actually hear what Fergie said, but if he said Howard Webb was biased towards Arsenal then he ought to have the book thrown at him, because that was an outrageous amount of rubbish!’ he said.

‘This is a serious point, not just knockabout fun either, because even if the best refs are constantly being criticised and people are trying to get under their skin to gain an advantage for their clubs all the time – as Ferdinand and Van Der Sar were claiming the ball was not over the line – it does affect the standard of refereeing in our country.

Please let me to protect Edwin and Rio. They protested but it was a vain and half-hearted attempt and nobody really denied after the game that the ball had crossed the line. Their little protest was just out of habit, nothing serious.

But otherwise I agree. I’m fed up with every manager, player and fan jumping on the smallest mistake of a referee. It makes their job almost unbearably difficult. They are viciously slated for every mistake and they are under more intense scrutiny than any player. When fans discuss a match, first thing that pops up is always the mistakes of the referee and the actual performance of the sides just comes after that.

It’s boring and it’s wrong. Talking about refereeing mistakes is part of the enjoyment of football of course but this should not dominate all the talk about the game. And someone as experienced and respected as Fergie should not stir up things with such outrageous rubbish that Webb favoured Arsenal. It’s not true and I think deep down he also knows this.