Sir Alex Ferguson has been handed a four match touchline ban as well as a £20,000 for questioning the fitness of referee Alan Wiley.

After spending an unusually long time to book Anton Ferdinand in the second half, Ferguson claimed this was because Wiley needed a chance to get his breath back. He also criticised how far behind play he was when the second goal was scored, comparing his lack of fitness to the referees there are in Europe.

Several newspaper then provided stats to “prove” that Wiley was fit enough in that match against Sunderland. Apparently only 10 of the 22 players on the pitch covered more distance than Wiley. Is that a good thing? Wiley is supposed to be tracking the action from box to box. Goalkeepers cover next to no ground, central defenders rarely pass the half way line, just like full-backs of our opponents at Old Trafford, strikers spend most of their time in their opponents half and waiting for the ball. There were also 6 substitutions made that day, with 4 of them missing out on the last 15 minutes or more of the match, so surely it’s expected for the referee to be one of, if not the most active person on the park? 11th? That’s shockingly poor, surely?!

Regardless, the FA have thrown the book at our manager and to be honest, we can’t be too surprised given the frequency of his criticisms of referees.

They have been clever though, making two of the touchline bans part of a suspended sentence, meaning he will have to keep his gob shut for the rest of the season. So the next time we’re away to our title rivals and the referee costs us the match, he will have to keep quiet. Can’t imagine it? Me neither. Apparently though, following the hysterical calls for Fergie to be given a stadium ban, the manager is happy enough with the punishment the FA have dished out.

Although it’s interesting to note that the FA have never given a touchline ban to a manager for post-match comments before, so they have jumped straight in at the deep end with United. Are we surprised? Well we shouldn’t be!

Reminder of FA’s dealings with United
– Manchester City’s Christian Negouai was fined £2k and received no ban for missing a drugs test around the same time the FA fined Rio Ferdinand £50k and an eight month ban.

– Manchester City’s Robbie Fowler scored a late goal against United and celebrated in front of our travelling fans, holding up his five digits to represent Liverpool’s success in Europe and received no punishment. A week later, Gary Neville celebrated in front of Liverpool’s travelling fans following a late goal and was fined £5k.

– Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard and Neil Mellor were sent off in the pre-season friendly Amsterdam tournament and received no punishment. Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes were sent off in the same tournament a couple of years later and were banned for three league matches.

– Craig Bellamy hits a restrained fan in front of the world’s cameras and receives a warning. Patrice Evra allegedly punched a Chelsea groundsman, although there was compelling evidence to the contrary (the CCTV footage which recorded the incident showed no punch) and receives a four match ban.

No other club’s fans can compare like to like examples where their club has repeatedly been dealt with more harshly than any other club.

And the FA set the precedent with Manchester United… again.

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