Ferguson fumes as United hit by late Tottenham sucker punch
SOCCER:Alex Ferguson turned his fire on the assistant referee Simon Beck at White Hart Lane, questioning how he could not have awarded Manchester United a potentially decisive second-half penalty, which he felt was costly when Tottenham Hotspur rallied to secure a 1-1 draw in injury time yesterday.
The United manager raged when Beck did not flag for an apparent trip from Steven Caulker on the substitute Wayne Rooney in the 62nd minute, with United 1-0 up, and he recalled his club’s history with the assistant as he levelled his criticism.
Beck erred in April 2010, when he failed to pull back Didier Drogba for offside at Old Trafford and the Chelsea striker’s goal stood. Their 2-1 victory proved significant in Chelsea’s title triumph that year.
“The stand-side linesman [Beck] didn’t give us a thing all day,” Ferguson said. “For me it was a poor performance by him. Why he never saw the penalty kick from Wayne Rooney and some other decisions . . . We remember him well from his time at the Chelsea game when Drogba was three yards offside and he gave onside. We have got that history with him. He never gave offside with Drogba at Old Trafford when he was three yards offside. Everyone remembers that, I certainly do.
“He had a shocking game. I’m disappointed in his performance, I really am. He had a bad game and we never got anything on that side of the pitch.”
Clint Dempsey equalised in the 93rd minute for Tottenham, following a cross from the substitute Benoit Assou-Ekotto that the United goalkeeper David de Gea failed to punch clear, and Ferguson struggled to conceal his frustration. The draw meant Manchester City, who beat Fulham on Saturday, closed to within five points at the top of the table.
“If you’re 1-0 up with a minute to go, you’re comfortable at that stage,” said Ferguson. “Tottenham worked their socks off . . . You cannot deny them the point as they worked ever so hard for it. They just kept pumping the ball in the box and got their reward because of that. We got used to the fact they were hitting long balls into the box and you would have thought we would have dealt with it better.
Very good team
“Everyone would recognise that Tottenham was a difficult team. But we have [played] all the difficult games away from home so far . . . Tottenham are a very good team, very committed and will take points off the teams that maybe matter to us.”
Ferguson lamented his team’s substandard final ball on the counter-attack but Andre Villas-Boas, his Tottenham counterpart, recognised that his side were value for the draw.
“The penalty [non-award for Rooney] is going to be debated but I hope it does not mar the game,” said Villas-Boas.
“I think that even during the game most of the decisions went against us. United prefer their view but I prefer to look from our view. We played better, we had 61 per cent possession and United had four chances. We take our boost of confidence from that.
“Controversy sells better but it should not mar the game. I thought we deserved a little bit more, although we take the draw in the last minute.”
As for the title race, Villas-Boas still thinks it is too close to call. “It is very tight between them,” he said. “They are two strong teams . . . I think it is for either of the Manchester teams as the distance to third place is quite important.
“I’m not sure (who will win the league) but United have the experience that can help them.”