I don’t think there was much surprise when Sir Alex Ferguson refused to speak to the press after his side’s defeat to Liverpool on Sunday.
He will, of course, been frustrated after his team were thoroughly dismantled to fall to their second defeat in a week. But he will also have been aware that the last time he spoke to the press he ended up with an FA charge.
That was against Chelsea in midweek when he questioned referee Martin Atkinson’s integrity following a number of controversial decisions. He already had a suspended touchline ban hanging over him so it was perhaps inevitable that he would be charged when he wondered whether Atkinson was ‘fair’.
While I do feel Ferguson’s comments do need to be reeled in a times - he is the master of mind-games and exerting psychological pressure on officials after all. I do feel a touch of sympathy for him as the FA appear to operate a one-way street when it comes to dealing with officials and manager’s actions.
You only have to look at last week for evidence of that.
Mark Clattenburg’s decision not to send off Wayne Rooney for a flying elbow went un-punished by the FA.
They said they were powerless as Clattenburg said he had dealt with the incident ‘appropriately’ - they can take no action if a ref has seen and dealt with an incident due to FIFA rules.
However, those FIFA rules dictate in exceptional circumstances punishments can be issues retrospectively, like the Ben Thatcher case a few years back.
The FA feel though this was 'halfway exceptional'.
A flying elbow halfway exceptional? So does the player need to suffer a fractured skull for the FA to be forced into action?
A referee has made a glaring error but isn’t punished and given a high profile game the following week. Managers though are hauled across the coals for even questioning some refereeing decisions.
This fierce protection of officials no matter what is why managers get so frustrated, even when it occasionaly goes their way like ot did for Fergie and Rooney last week.
I can understand the need to not question a ref’s authority but there is also a need to be seen to be accountable for their mistakes.
They are human after all and fans would appreciate that more if they and the FA came out and said “yes, they made an honest mistake”.
Instead they treat them like robots who make perfect decisions everytime, which as we have seen the past week, they most certainly do not.