At the end of the 90 minutes, Sir Alex Ferguson was left fuming at the performance of Martin Atkinson then proceeded to have a pop at the refereeing hierarchy in England. Now, the first thing people will do is have a go at Fergie for being ‘unprofessional’ and disrespectful to the officials and the opposition. If anyone, who wants to have a go at United or at Ferguson himself, should really analyse the facts and the game itself before assuming ‘arrogant United’.
United were far the better team on Saturday. Yes, of course a side can lose a game of football to an inferior team but then manner in which United did lose surely can’t measure the level of criticism the side has received for going out of the competition. United had 64% of the ball over the course of the 90 minutes and had 20 shots on goal. These shots came in the form of Carlos Tevez’s smashed drive cleared off the line by Johnson, Patrice Evra brushing the fingers tips of James and flies off the post or the inability of Carrick to convert the ball from a yard out (to be fair to him I don’t think it’s as bad as some fans made out). But United could not break down a Portsmouth side that played extremely well defensively.
However, had Martin Atkinson given the penalty to United in the first half after Distin’s bodycheck on Ronaldo, Portsmouth would have had to attack and inevitably would have played into United’s hands. Some rivals fans have mocked Fergie – trying to portray him as an raving lunatic to even question the decision. Atkinson got it wrong. There is no two ways about it, the ref got it wrong and should receive criticism from the manager who was affected by his actions. Why shouldn’t he be? Just because it is Fergie having a go? Nonsense! The referee was diabolical and if I made those types of decisions at my job I would be disciplined, right in the same way Atkinson should be.
This backs up Fergie comments, which have come under harsh abuse from respectable journalists, Henry Winter being one. Now Henry Winter is a superb journalist, articulate, creative, intelligent and above all interesting. Winter attacks Ferguson for criticising the official regardless of the fact that Fergie is 100% correct, instead focusing on the lunge by Wayne Rooney. This is the problem that occurs when an official doesn’t do his job correctly, players get frustrated and try to take the matter into their own hands. Thus Rooney jumping in like a maniac on Kranjcar.
So to conclude, fair play to Pompey, they defended well and all the best to them in the semi-finals, but to turn the game on its head and focus on Fergie is wrong. Some fans and writers were blaming Fergie for double standards, stating that he wouldn’t have said those things had it been for the other side or had United won the game….Of course he wouldn’t! What do you take him for!? I can see Fergie questioning the officials (maybe not as emotionally as Saturday) if we had won the game, but not for the other side – who in their right mind would? The FA Cup is over for another season, but United can take this as a positive and they can now concentrate on the Champions League and the League – A bitter blow to be out, but still not the same as the forced upon siege mentality of Liverpool as blogged previously!