Date: 15th January 2006 at 1:56pm
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To lose a derby match is bad enough, but to see your players under-perform the way they did was too much for the gaffa. Sir Alex Ferguson lost it, and was involved in a furious half-time altercation with referee Steve Bennett as Manchester United crashed to a sorry 3-1 derby-day defeat at Eastlands.

Ferguson let fly with a verbal tirade at Bennett as the United boss was particularly annoyed by a Stephen Jordan tackle on Wayne Rooney, which saw the City man rake his studs down the striker’s shin which went completely unpunished.

Did Ferguson call Bennett ‘a cheat’? Apparently it has been strongly denied by United.

United officials attempted to clarify the situation: ‘There was a heated exchange but the content was limited to the manager’s assessment of the referee’s first-half performance. But any talk of a threat is nonsense.’

Ferguson: ‘In games like this, you need the referee and linesmen to be strong but we didn’t get that. It was very disappointing,’ said the United chief.

‘He did not get a foul for the bad tackle just before and was probably frustrated. But it was more rash than vicious. He didn’t touch the player, in fact he didn’t get anywhere near him, yet the referee decided it was a red card. Maybe he should look at it again.

‘The problem is interpretation. On Wednesday, Wayne Rooney got caught by a knee high tackle yet there wasn’t even a booking. Every referee is different and we know Steve Bennett, we know him.’