Sir Alex Ferguson was forced to watch the second half of our defeat to Bolton from the stands yesterday, after giving the hopeless Mark Clattenburg a piece of his mind in the tunnel. The ref let Bolton kick lumps out of our lads, with very little repercussions for our opposition. Only two of their players were booked in a game where their rough challenges came flying left, right and centre. We’ve got a tough group of lads who don’t shy away from the physical battle, but the antics of the Bolton players, coupled with the lack of reaction from the referee, were unbelievable.

The worst culprit of them all was Kevin Davies, who I am amazed stayed on the field for the full ninety minutes. He was involved in a battle with our Patrice Evra throughout the match, taking his legs away from him, intentionally colliding with him in the air, and generally making little to no effort to win the ball when challenging Evra. His behaviour didn’t stop once Clattenburg booked him, but no further action was taken.

Bolton Fouls Resulting in Free Kicks

0.57 – Just 57 seconds in to the game, and Bolton commit their first foul. Abdoulaye Meite takes Louis Saha out.
12.37 – El-Hadji Diouf fouls Nani on the wing, when in a rather non-threatening area on the park.
13.52 – Ivan Campo fouls Saha in our half of the field.
17.54 – Abdoulaye Meite fouls Carlos Tevez in our half of the field. Meite goes through the back of him, flooring the Argentine, and Clattenburg felt dishing out a bit of a talking to was worthy enough punishment.
19.56 – Ivan Campo‘s second foul of the game, again on Louis Saha.
21.56 – Yellow card. Kevin Davies makes a late, high and crunching tackle on Patrice Evra. Fergie goes mental.
26.44 – Kevin Nolan fouls Carrick in our half of the field.
29.16 – Nicolas Anelka fouls Rio Ferdinand.

Half an hour played. Bolton fouls – 8. United fouls – 2 (Evra on Guthrie which lead to the first goal, Saha on Campo). Bolton have averaged a foul every three to four minutes so far, one yellow card has been handed out.

30.36 – Davies on Evra, again. Evra win the ball in the air, it was no contest, but that doesn’t stop Davies going for Evra. Another talking to from the ref.
41.09 – Kevin Nolan fouls Carrick in our half, again.
54.57 – Nicolas Anelka, again, this time on Gerard Pique.
58.51 – Campo again, this time on the newly substituted player, Anderson. The third free kick he has given away.
63.20 – Yellow card.Kevin Nolan fouls again, this time on Patrice Evra, just outside the box. This foul results in the painfully close freekick from Owen Hargreaves. The third foul the ref has deemed worthy of a free kick results in a booking.
64.62 – Nicky Hunt fouls Nani.
76.11 – Kevin Nolan again, this time on Anderson.
93.21 – Diouf, again, on Patrice Evra.

By the time the full whistle has gone, Bolton have been guilty of sixteen fouls which have resulted in free kicks, yet only two players have been booked (Hunt got a yellow card for time wasting at the end). But this isn’t the only example of inconsistencies where Bolton’s discipline record is concerned. I suppose you wouldn’t be too surprised to hear that only one player has committed more fouls than Kevin Davies in the league this season (Alan Smith!), so don’t think it was just Patrice getting special treatment. Yet somehow, Davies has escaped with just three yellow cards. And the really good news? Bolton will be without Kevin Nolan for their next game due to his dirty behaviour in our match, which is of course against the dippers. Well, I really am thrilled that they are reaping the benefits of our players getting lumps kicked out of them!

Sir Alex Ferguson has filled us in on the goings on of the tunnel, and fully stands behind his initial point. Whilst United didn’t play well enough yesterday, they had little chance to get in to the game when Bolton players were quick to cotton on that Clattenburg didn’t have the bottle. He couldn’t quite muster up the courage to book a handful of Bolton players in front of their own fans, celebrating their “cup final” lead. “Some referees don’t like the truth,” fumed Ferguson. “Bolton were over-physical and there were two or three very dodgy tackles. There were lots of late tackles and I could not believe some of the things they were allowed to get away with. In those situations, you want the referee to be strong and to be able to handle it but we didn’t get any protection at all. I made my feelings known to the referee, so I spent the second-half upstairs.”

Was Ferguson right to have a pop at the ref? Or is he getting hot and bothered about nothing?