Fergie hits out at referee Clattenburg after United held
Published 23:00 09/01/10 By Simon Mullock
Sir Alex Ferguson once again had a referee in his sights after Manchester United’s bid to go top of the Premier League was halted at Birmingham.
Ferguson, banned from the touchline for labelling Alan Wiley unfit to referee, laid into Mark Clattenburg after Darren Fletcher was sent off for two bookable offences in the 1-1 draw at St Andrew’s.
Fletcher, cautioned for a first-half foul on Lee Bowyer, saw red in the 83rd minute for an innocuous trip on City goalscorer Cameron Jerome.
United had drawn level thanks to Scott Dann’s 63rd-minute own goal – awarded when Clatenburg overruled an assistant who had flagged for offside.
Ferguson said: “I have not seen a softer sending off in my life. It was absolutely ridiculous.
“I saw Mark Clattenburg referee Arsenal’s game against Spurs this season, when you needed to hit someone with an axe to get booked.
“Fletcher didn’t deserve a booking for that foul. It was nothing.
“But that was just one of the weird and wonderful decisions we saw tonight.
“The assistant actually tried to disallow our equaliser for offside when it was clearly and own goal.”
Ferguson added: ““We dominated the game. We played absolutely brilliantly in the first half.
“But once Birmingham scored against the run of play it was always going to be difficult for us because Alex McLeish has got his players running at 100 miles-an-hour for each other.
“In the end, we have got to be satisfied with a point, especially as we finished the game with 10 men.”
Birmingham claimed a club record by stretching their unbeaten run in the Premier League to 12 matches – the Blues’ best-ever sequence in the top flight.
McLeish said: “I am so proud of my players. They have been absolutely wonderful.
“It’s been an exciting journey for this club and we want to take it even further.
“We paid United too much respect in the firs half, but our passion and spirit kept us in there and in the end we could have nicked it.
“These players have such a terrific spirit – it is the best spirit I have ever come across in all my years in football.
“We have a very powerful unit in the dressing room and I thought in the second half we also showed that we have got skill to go with the spirit.”