Roberto Di Matteo says referees favour Manchester United

Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo has suggested that Premier League referees tend to favour Manchester United in big games. It’s an opinion widely held by fans, but some managers have been reticent about voicing it so openly.

The last one to do so, the former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, was ridiculed in the media for his extensive criticism of Manchester United’s manager Alex Ferguson and what Benitez described as the deliberate pressure placed on referees.

Di Matteo did not have the extensive dossier of evidence that Benitez claimed, but he did have some similar impressions. "There is a lot of evidence for being concerned that all the decisions go in United's favour," Di Matteo said. "It's just part of their decision-making and it seems to go in one direction. Does it even itself out? I don't know."

Di Matteo was responding to Ferguson’s decision to weigh into the dispute about referee Mark Clattenburg’s alleged use of racial language against Chelsea players. Ferguson defended the referee, saying that it was "unthinkable" that he would use the words that Chelsea claimed. "I just don't believe it – simple as that," Ferguson said. "There is no way a referee would stoop to that, I am convinced of that."

Di Matteo was offended that Ferguson chose to add his contribution to another club’s complaint, especially as FA and police investigations are both ongoing. "Everybody has freedom of speech," Di Matteo said. "We take into consideration what other people say and use it as a motivational tool for ourselves. He likes to talk about other clubs. We tend not to. I’ll leave it up to him. It doesn’t really affect me too much."

Ferguson will probably be delighted that Di Matteo has responded so angrily. Chelsea look like dangerous title challengers this season, and Ferguson will hope that Di Matteo’s relative inexperience as a manager will allow him to be rattled by Ferguson’s intervention.

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