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Ding ding ding! Ferguson versus Hackett

After Manchester United drew with Everton at the weekend, Sir Alex Ferguson had a few words for Alan Wiley. The whistle had blown for a foul on Cristiano Ronaldo, but as he struggled to get to his feet, the ball out of his reach, Neville lunged in with two feet, kicking the ball out of play with one foot, planting his studs in Ronaldo’s knee with the other. After letting this dreadful challenge go with just a yellow card, the atmosphere changed. The home fans woke up and they were baying for blood.

When Wayne Rooney got booked for pulling out of a challenge with Mikel Arteta, after we’d conceded a goal, you had to wonder about Rooney’s temperament. After kissing our badge, the referee came over for a word. “Off! Off! Off!” shouted the Everton fans, as if kissing a badge is a bookable offence.

Moments later, Rooney was taken off. This was fairly alarming, considering I don’t think we should ever sub him off the park, but it was for his own good. After the match, Ferguson pointed the finger at the referee.

“The referee was to blame, and the crowd was egging him on and there was every chance he may have been sent off, and not for anything he did in the game,” said Ferguson. “You get a booking for nothing and then you wonder what the referee is going to do next.”

However, when a referee is at fault, the blame can go higher up, all the way to Keith Hackett. If referees are allowing two-footed challenges, with studs making contact, to go as a yellow card, then the man at the top, Hackett, isn’t doing his job.

Ferguson has directed criticism at Hackett on a number of occasions, wanting the man who is dishing out the rules and guidelines to take responsibility for the wrong-doings that go on.

Last November, Fergie claimed there were slipping standards in the quality of refereeing that season. After Patrice Evra received a kicking from Kevin Davies, including a tackle from behind, our manager wanted to know what was going on.

“At the summer conference, Keith Hackett was on about tackling from behind,” he said. “He made a promise to the managers that tackles with raised feet off the ground would be a red card and that tackles from the back would be a red card. Standards must be slipping because there have been some bad tackles recently, not just in our games but in quite a few others. And what happens then is that if someone gets seriously injured? Who gets the blame? The referee gets the blame.”

After United were robbed against Portsmouth in the Cup last season, Ferguson let rip on Hackett again. Ronaldo had been kicked and shoved all over the park, including an occasion in the opening few minutes in the penalty area, yet the referee did nothing to stop it.

“Keith Hackett has got a lot to answer for because he is not doing his job properly,” Fergie said after the game. “He has to be assessed. I am assessed as a manager, the players are assessed and the referees should be assessed. That kind of performance (by the referee) should not be accepted. The standards are not good enough.”

According to reports at the time, Fergie didn’t leave it there, and rang Hackett to give him a piece of his mind, seeking answers to questions on the incompetency of referees.

The story doesn’t stop there though, with Fergie intent on making Hackett be answerable for the poor performances of referees. When John Terry’s red card for a rugby tackle was rescinded, our manager started again.

“From what I have heard, Keith Hackett has told the referee to rescind the red card and he wouldn’t do it,” said Ferguson. “If it had been a Manchester United player, Keith Hackett wouldn’t have done this.”

So finally, after dragging his name through the dirt for the past year, Ferguson has got what he wanted, a meeting with Hackett himself. After these comments claiming that Hackett would be biased against Manchester United (let’s be honest, if Wayne Rooney had rugby tackled someone, an appeal to have his punishment rescinded would have been laughed out!), the referee’s chief has arranged a meeting with our manager.

A spokesperson called Ferguson’s comments ‘inappropriate’, but have saved him from FA punishment. “Keith Hackett has no involvement with the claims-for-wrongful-dismissal process and we reiterated this to Sir Alex,” they said. “Alex and Keith Hackett have agreed to meet privately to discuss this and other issues. In view of this we have decided not to take any formal disciplinary action in relation to this matter.”

So, maybe things can be resolved once and for all? I very much doubt it.

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. jon jonson says:

    This hackett is a joke, sack him!

  2. Stephen says:

    I agree in all points, but thought Phil Nevilles challenge on Ronaldo was Ok, he won the ball, Ronnie made a meal of it.
    Also J Cole tackle on Ronnie only got a booking and almost cut him in half, was a joke.

  3. Fuglis says:

    Phil’s tackle was a clear red, Ronnies theatrics was (as always) unnecessary… Even though you happen to touch the ball in the process of killing your opponent, this does not make it an ok tackle. If this process of thinking is wrong, you would also see this as a fair tackle: . Hopefully, most people won’t.

  4. Harry says:

    If it is a United player they are made an example of “for the good of football”. Keane comments in his book which he did get a red card for earned him another suspension and a huge fine. Michael Owens similar comments in his book about Ronnie johnson (which resulted in him being taken to hospital and a serious injury) not6hing done about it. Stevie Me pinching someine in friendly in holland not even a booking, Rooney and Scholes being suspended for three games in england. List is endless

  5. smith says:

    Stephen u stupid fool. u didn’t watch the match . he should be red carded. Go watch the match before making comments which are biased to ronaldo. ronaldo is a diver but doesn’t mean he never get hit by tackles. U are such a joke stephen.

  6. Stephen says:

    smith calm down you will have a heart attack. I was at the game, by the way.

  7. RedMist says:

    Replace P.Neville with Rooney, and replace Ronaldo with Arteta (or any Everton player) and you’ve got a straight red card…all day, everyday. The ball was dead as when Neville flew in as the ref had blown for the previous foul.

  8. Jake says:

    This is ridiculous, Ferguson’s attacks on the referees are a reactionary defence mechanism. When other manager’s look at their players and sigh, Ferguson can’t do this because he rightly believes he has the best team in the world but even the best switch off and behind the scenes Ferguson no doubt lets the players know. The media is not the medium for hammering the players, so why not the ref and as for Terry’s card, he’s a muppet with a turning circle of a double decker bus but it was a bit harsh and it wasn’t a rugby tackle. There is no bias against United, it’s ridiculous to suggest otherwise, it’s just that with the stature of united and the media attention it often appears that way. If anything, I would suggest it is probably harder for refs to give decisions against us some times because of the circus that inevitably follows a negative decision, factor in the 70,000 odd crowd at old trafford and that we are supposed to win every game and you can imagine that the human brain would edge on the side of placating all these caveats. The circus that follows a positive decison for us is far easier for refs than the always well-scrutinised Ferguson tirade after a negative one. Refs make bad decisions in all matches, not just ours but sometimes we’d rather think it was a refereeing conspiracy that caused our 1-1 draws and not the fact the players just switched off. ROM writes good artcles but this isn’t one, can’t we be different and just have United websites that are reasonable and step away from the irrationality akin to someone who believes in the 9/11 conspiracy theories…?

  9. Par says:

    Kissing your badge isn’t a bookable offense. Inciting the crowd is.

  10. Scott the Red says:

    With all due respect, Jake, if this isn’t a rugby tackle…

    …I dont know what is!

    Feel free to create your own website that suits your needs mate.

  11. Stephen says:

    Par, lets not sanitse football anymore, soon we won’t be allowed to celebrate a goal.

  12. john ferry says:

    Jake, Sir Alex Ferguson has the best team in the world (win, lose, or draw). Alan Wiley let the game get out of control, I thought it was just a matter of time before someone got really hurt. The Ronaldo foul could have been avoided if wiley would have called a foul against phil neville for a foul against Evra just seconds before. As I said once before, a committee consisting of the FA, the Refs, and Representatives from all EPL teams should formed to handle these situations. Conspiracy theories are crazy. I cant believe that people still think that only one man was responsible for Kennedy’s death-that to me is a conspiracy.

  13. divedivedive says:

    We all suffer from bad decisions, its part of the game. But when rednose gets a bad decision he goes apeshit. Rooney should been given a second yellow for inciting the crowd but when does that thug ever get a second yellow, never, despite all the cheating and dissent he has shown to refs and other players. How long are you going to keep crying about the tackle on ronaldo by neville, a tackle that he learnt from roy keane at old trafford. Ronaldo deserves tackles like that every game until he stops fucking diving and rolling round like a baby.

  14. Stephen says:

    divedivedive, a very intelligent post, not bitter at all.

  15. OTRed says:

    @divedivedive: well done, I’d hope Toure and Van Persie get tackled till they stopped diving too, what a fool you are. i’ll assume you are an Arsenal fan cus only their fans have the IQ this low to come up with that.

  16. Harry says:

    Rooney should have been sent off!! What the fuck for??? He got booked for a non foul that every pundit has said wasn’t a foul. Artita rolled about and got Rooney booked. The Neville foul was a great tackle when you see it in slowmo. On the day it looked a leg breaker. divedivedive wonderful comment from the English school of diving. Fuck off back to Arsenal. As for kissing the badge then Felamini should have been sent off as well he kissed his badge after scoring.

  17. suhayl says:

    DIVEDIVEDIVE…is an arsehole fan…..who loves loitering about on utd sites…he’s always around any news regarding utd….

    No news and trophies to comment in arsehole land…so he hangs around creating a tink here…in the champions of england and europe forums and sites…

    And rooney did even touch arteta…he pulled out of the challenge seconds before…and all that was left was a dangling leg. No way a yellow

    And yes neville may have got the ball….but the facts are he also got rons knee….and why go in sooooo hard and recklessly when ronaldo didnt have control of the ball…wasnt standing…was getting to his feet slowly. Thats what made it worse


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