Manchester United lost to Chelsea after the referee awarded a freekick against Darren Fletcher after the Scot won the ball well from Ashley Cole. As the ball came in, Didier Drogba pulled Wes Brown to the ground and was in an offside position, interfering with play due to his proximity to the goalkeeper. The goal stood and after United were denied a penalty and Wayne Rooney was wrongly flagged offside when one on one with the keeper, were left five points behind Chelsea instead of one point clear at the top.
Sir Alex Ferguson has today likened our situation to that of Ireland, who were denied the chance to go to next summer’s World Cup after former Arsenal striker, Thierry Henry, purposefully handled the ball twice in the lead up to France’s crucial goal. He says the Chelsea game may have cost us the league, although unlike Ireland, we have the opportunity to recover.
“My thoughts were with Trapattoni,” said Ferguson. “He prepared the Ireland team and got an absolute magnificent performance from them. You couldn’t ask for better from a coach and it’s been taken away from him. It’s denied a couple of our players the chance to play in the World Cup and you can’t get a better experience than that. But two weeks ago Drogba pulled down Brown and there was obviously not a hullabaloo like this. But does that incident cost Manchester United the League? It could very well cost us it. That’s how important decision-making can be. But you just have to get on with it. We’re capable of recovering from it but Ireland can’t recover. The World Cup Finals have gone for them. It begs the question about technology. Uefa and Fifa’s stance is they prefer human decision-making rather than technology. Until they change their stance there’s nothing you can do about it. If you asked every manager and player, you’d probably get the same answer. They all think, as I do, that technology can play a part. It can help referees. We can take comfort from the performance against Chelsea because we outplayed them. We dominated the match and worked very hard on our tactics that week to get it right. We should have won. Ireland were the same. They had opportunities. It’s just disappointing when you put a lot of work into a game and then it’s taken away from you.”