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Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012

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Just hear me out: Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson yells at assistant referee Jake Collin during a match against Newcastle on Wednesday. AFP-JIJI

Fergie lashes out after critics question antics

AP

LONDON — Facing criticism once again from media and fellow Premier League managers, Alex Ferguson was half-expecting a reaction from the President of the United States, too.

The volatile Manchester United manager hasn't been short of influential critics following his latest outburst at a referee.

This time, he wouldn't have been surprised if it had even reached the ears of the White House.

"The press have had a field day out of it," Ferguson said of the discussion about his behavior. "They have addressed every possible avenue. The only one they have left out is Barack Obama. He is too busy."

It's hardly comparable to the "fiscal cliff" deadline currently occupying President Obama, but the Premier League's main talking point over the festive period has been the outspokenness of English soccer's longest-serving manager.

Days after claiming one of his players could have been "killed" by an opponent, the 70-year-old Ferguson delivered another rant Friday while defending himself for approaching match officials during a league match against Newcastle.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew said Thursday he was surprised to see Ferguson escape punishment for confronting referee Mike Dean, a linesman and the fourth official during United's 4-3 win at Old Trafford, after the visitors had been awarded a dubious goal.

It prompted an angry response.

"I carry that because I am the manager of the most famous club in the world," Ferguson said. "I am not like Newcastle, a wee club in the north east."

Ferguson claims he was "demonstrative but . . . not out of order" and accused Pardew of hypocrisy, with the Newcastle manager having served a two-match touchline ban this season for pushing an assistant referee during a league match.

"Alan Pardew is the worst at haranguing referees," Ferguson said. "His whole staff, every game. He was at it the whole game on Wednesday.

Some believe Ferguson — one of the most powerful voices in soccer — benefits from favorable treatment from authorities, yet the United manager did serve a five-match touchline ban following criticism of referee Martin Atkinson after a league match against Chelsea last season. He also was handed a suspended two-match ban that season for accusing another referee — Alan Wiley — of being physically unfit to referee a Premier League game.

In this latest incident, Ferguson was furious that Dean overruled a linesman's decision and awarded a goal to Newcastle when United defender Jonny Evans turned the ball into his own net as he attempted to clear a shot. Newcastle striker Papiss Demba Cisse was standing in an offside position when the shot was struck and was close to Evans when the ball was deflected in, but wasn't seen to be interfering with play according to Dean.

Dean decided not to mention his confrontation with Ferguson in his referee's match report.

"I think Mike Dean might feel slightly disappointed he didn't do something about it," Pardew said.

However, Ferguson said: "It has been overplayed. I was not on the pitch for more than three or four yards and then we came off together. There was no ranting or raving from me. I was demonstrative. I am always demonstrative. Everyone knows that. I am an emotional guy. That doesn't mean to say I was abusive."

Arsenal manager Arsene shared Pardew's view of the incident.

"Should you behave like that? No . . . when you go overboard, you have to be punished," said Wenger.

The Frenchman's relationship with Ferguson has improved over recent seasons, compared to the days when Arsenal and United were going head-to-head for English titles, but Wenger had little sympathy for his old adversary.

"Whether it's me or Fergie or anyone else in the world, the rules are the rules," Wenger said. "It is not rules for one person and rules for another. It's the same for everybody."

Neymar staying in Brazil

JIJI

BARCELONA, Spain — Neymar Sr. said his son did want to play in Europe to further his career development but told Friday's Barcelona-based Sport daily: "This is what he wants (but) he will do it in 2014."

He added that was why his son's Santos contract had been shortened from 2015 to 2014 to allow him to showcase his talents through to the World Cup on home soil as a home-grown star.

Even so, his father warned that "if Neymar is not happy" or Santos found that it would be better to sell him on financial grounds, then that could conceivably be an option.

Were that to transpire then the 20-year-old forward is set to head off to Spain's La Liga with Barcelona.

"Barca, of course. Barcelona's football is similar to that of Neymar, isn't that so?" the elder Neymar senior.



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