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Sir Alex Ferguson hits out at 'soft' Fletcher red card

Darren Fletcher
Fletcher was sent off for a second bookable offence

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson criticised the decision to send off Darren Fletcher in the 1-1 draw with Birmingham on Saturday.

Fletcher was booked in the first half for a rash tackle on Lee Bowyer but the foul on Cameron Jerome that earned him a second yellow looked less clear-cut.

"Darren's not that type of player. I thought it was a terribly soft sending-off, he's barely clipped him," he said.

"The boy was already falling. I don't think you'll see a softer sending off."

Dimitar Berbatov was left out of the United match-day squad before the game, prompting speculation that he been dropped after playing in his side's humiliating FA Cup defeat by Leeds.

Manchester United assistant manager Mike Phelan says he is satisfied with the single point

But Ferguson revealed an injury had stopped the Bulgarian from featuring.

"Berbatov's been carrying an injury. He's wanted to play with it but we felt just that we should try to get it sorted and get him fit again," said Ferguson.

"He may have to have an exploratory operation."

Although Ferguson was unhappy with referee Mark Clattenburg's handling of the Fletcher incident, the Scot insisted the official had been correct to award Scott Dann's own goal.


The goal was initially ruled out for an offside against Wayne Rooney but after consulting with his assistant, Clattenburg overturned the decision and gave the goal that earned United a point, to put them one point behind leaders Chelsea.

Ferguson said: "It's an obvious own goal and the referee had to allow it. I don't know what the linesman thought.

"It was clearly an own goal and the linesman flags for offside. I don't know what to say about that."

TV replays showed Rooney was just onside when Patrice Evra struck the initial shot that deflected into the net off Dann.

McLeish tries to quell Brum expectations

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish was less certain the goal should have stood but agreed the officials had eventually made the correct decision.

"The linesman's flagged for it and we felt that if he flagged for it then it shouldn't be given," he said.

"I thought at the time that it should have been given offside. We thought Rooney interfered with the guy who put it in the net.

"But he looked onside on the replay so they've ultimately reached the right decision but in the wrong way!"

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see also
Birmingham 1-1 Man Utd
09 Jan 10 |  Premier League
Saturday football as it happened
09 Jan 10 |  Football
Saturday's football photos
09 Jan 10 |  Football

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