Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has been charged with improper conduct by the Football Association following his comments about referee Martin Atkinson.
Ferguson was critical of the official following United’s 2-1 defeat at Chelsea on Tuesday evening and he has been brought to task by the FA.
The long-serving Red Devils boss was unhappy with Atkinson’s failure to show Chelsea defender David Luiz a second yellow card for a trip on Wayne Rooney.
The Scot’s fury was compounded when the Blues broke up the other end to earn a match-winning penalty following Chris Smalling’s challenge on Yuri Zhirkov which Ferguson described as ‘soft’.
“You want a fair referee, or a strong referee anyway – and we didn’t get that,” said Ferguson to MUTV in the aftermath of the game.
“I must say, when I saw who the referee was I feared it. I feared the worst.”
The Football Association asked MUTV for footage of the interview to check the context in which Ferguson delivered the words.
And, even though he immediately softened his stance, altering the word ‘fair’ to ‘strong’, disciplinary chiefs feel there is sufficient malice to warrant charging him.
An FA statement read: “The FA has today charged Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson with improper conduct relating to media comments.
“The charge relates to comments made about match official Martin Atkinson in post-match interviews following Manchester United’s fixture with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday 1 March 2011.
“Ferguson has until 4pm on Tuesday 8 March to respond to the charge.”
He is now facing a lengthy period away from the dug-out as Ferguson already has two matches of a four-game ban still hanging over him following his ill-advised comments about Alan Wiley last season, when he implied the official was not fit enough for his job.
Those games will be triggered if guilt is established, which would condemn him to the stands for United’s FA Cup sixth-round tie with Arsenal at Old Trafford on 12th March, plus the Premier League encounter with Bolton seven days later, while punishment for his latest indiscretion would be added.