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The FA Cup Fourth Round

Monday Moan: SAF & Rio let United down

Mark Holmes has sympathy for Manchester United regarding Nani's red card, but is less forgiving towards Sir Alex Ferguson and Rio Ferdinand.

Last Updated: 11/03/13 at 13:14 Post Comment

Sir Alex Ferguson: Opted not to shake the hand of Rafa Benitez

Sir Alex Ferguson: Opted not to shake the hand of Rafa Benitez

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Nani red card a grave injustice

Fifty-five minutes into their Champions League clash with Real Madrid on Tuesday night, Manchester United's dream of winning another treble was beginning to look extremely achievable.

Six days later, United are out of Europe and up against it to stay in the FA Cup after throwing away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Suffice to say it has been a bad week for Sir Alex Ferguson and his players.

Regarding the first controversial incident, which saw Nani sent off for a high challenge on Alvaro Arbeloa, I have nothing but sympathy for the Red Devils.

Every footballer in Nani's situation would have tried to bring the ball down in exactly the same way, and nine times out of 10 the winger would have done so without touching Arbeloa.

The fact that Nani did catch Arbeloa means his actions had to be considered careless or reckless by referee Cuneyt Cakir, but red cards should only be shown to players that use excessive force.

There is no way that Nani used more force than was necessary to bring the ball down. No matter how much United's detractors might argue otherwise, United suffered a grave injustice on this occasion.

Ferguson does himself no favours

Although he had a right to feel aggrieved, Ferguson has done himself no favours since Tuesday night's game.

First he refused to speak to the media, landing United in hot water with UEFA, then he banned reporters from the Daily Mail and Independent from the club after they printed stories claiming Wayne Rooney would leave Old Trafford in the summer, and then on Sunday he opted not to shake the hand of Rafa Benitez prior to United's FA Cup clash with Chelsea.

His media snub was somewhat understandable - I have written before that it's wrong managers are forced into discussing controversial incidents with the media so soon after matches, often getting themselves into trouble saying something they may not have done after time to calm down - but plenty of managers have fronted up after their sides have been on the wrong end of controversial decisions against United.

The same goes for erroneous media reports - press conferences would be empty if newspapers were banned every time they had printed an article that upset a manager.

As for snubbing Benitez, managers are under no obligation to shake hands before or even after games, but a failure to do so is always seen as disrespectful.

Ferguson may feel he has been disrespected by Benitez in the past, but the pettiness he has displayed over the past week is very unbecoming of a man with the title 'Sir' in front of his name.

Ferdinand a bad loser

Someone else letting Manchester United down this week has been Rio Ferdinand.

First he sarcastically applauded in the face of the referee after United's defeat to Real Madrid, and then on Sunday against Chelsea he shoved Fernando Torres, kicked him in his Achilles, and then dragged the striker back to his feet.

There were similar off-the-ball incidents in the Liverpool v Tottenham and Newcastle v Stoke games also on Sunday, but Ferdinand's actions hinted at a man that doesn't take losing - or not winning in Sunday's case - very well at all.

Lamah 'goal' makes technology case

Hibernian had a clear goal not given in Sunday's Edinburgh derby against Hearts, Leigh Griffiths' effort landing well over the line before spinning back out, proving the need for goal-line technology, which will finally arrive next season.

Also over the weekend, Swansea had a perfectly good goal disallowed at West Brom when Ronald Lamah was flagged for offside despite the ball landing at his feet via touches from Albion players Ben Foster and Gareth McAuley.

As I have written in the past, I am against video technology in the main as the majority of decisions in football come down to interpretation and are still argued about after countless replays.

However, offsides are one of the few things in football that are clear cut, and if further technology is to be introduced, it should undoubtedly be to right mistakes like the one which cost Swansea on Sunday.

You can follow me on Twitter @Homzy to see what I moan about for the rest of the week.

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