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'Fair comment'

Alex Ferguson has never been known for his calm, rational attitude when it comes to referees: the only reason we don’t hear him going off on one about officials more often is that Manchester United win nearly every week, and so he has very little cause to complain. Anyway, we all know they get loads of decisions their way, and that he should just keep his mouth shut, but he doesn’t seem to take the hint.

In his latest outburst the United boss has said that his appalling criticism of Martin Atkinson – who presided over United’s 2-1 loss to Chelsea, and who Ferguson suggested was bent – was nothing more than ‘fair comment’. He has also suggested that he has been punished simply for speaking his mind, as though that were a get-out for saying any outrageous thing he fancies.

‘You've just got to be careful that you don't have paranoia about it,’ He said. ‘If you speak your mind, it's a problem in the game. The FA is very strong in supporting the referees and, in a way, I agree with that but there has to be fair comment also. I try to do that.’

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