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Sir Alex Ferguson upset by 'shocking' performance

Rooney and Berbatov trudge off after Man Utd's shock defeat by Leeds
Rooney and Berbatov trudge off after Man Utd's shock defeat by Leeds

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson did not hold back in criticising his players as Manchester United were dumped out of the FA Cup by League One side Leeds.

Ferguson said Leeds had deserved the victory as their rivals won 1-0 in a big upset at Old Trafford.

"I didn't expect that performance, it was shocking. I've no complaints about the result," said Ferguson.

But he did complain about the lack of injury time added, describing the five minutes as "an insult to the game".

He questioned referee Chris Foy's timekeeping and stated: "That is an insult to the game and the players out there."

Earlier in the season, Ferguson was handed a four-game ban, with two of those suspended until the end of the 2010/11 season, for criticising referee Alan Wiley's fitness.

Ferguson, 67, was also fined £20,000 and warned about his future conduct.

BBC Sport understands the Football Association does not anticipate punishing Ferguson for his comments after the defeat by Leeds and even if action was taken, it would have no bearing on the two-match suspended ban.

For that to happen, the Scot would have to be found guilty of a similar charge - but questioning Foy's timekeeping and criticising Wiley's fitness would not fall into the same bracket.

Under FA rules, a manager is allowed to be critical of, or disagree with, a referee's decision during his post-match interviews provided he does not imply bias, question integrity or be personal in the nature of his comments.

If Ferguson is charged with a similar offence to that relating to Wiley before the end of the 2010/11 season, the suspended two-match ban would not immediately be invoked.

He would have to be charged, have the case heard - at which point an appeal could be lodged - and learn the verdict before any further punishment can be issued.

Sunday's second half was punctuated by several petty disputes and an injury to Leeds goalscorer Jermaine Beckford and there were five substitutions before the additional time was shown.

However, Ferguson turned most of his ire on his players after Manchester United were defeated by lower league opposition for the first time since they were beaten in Bournemouth in 1984.

"Leeds deserved to win. They got breaks at times but deserved their luck - I'm disappointed," added Ferguson.

Beckford's 19th-minute goal was enough to secure Leeds a famous victory at Old Trafford - their first since 1981 - but Ferguson was frustrated at his team's overall display.

He picked a side including the likes of Gary Neville, Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov, while Nemanja Vidic was injured in the warm up. The less experienced Danny Wellbeck and Fabio da Silva were also on show.

Ferguson told MUTV: "We did speak about Beckford's pace up front.

"We were caught napping really, it was a bad goal for us to lose. The whole performance in the first half was bad. We never got going and the quality of the passing… the whole performance was just bad.

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"I don't think any of the players can say they had a good day. Maybe only [substitute Antonio] Valencia, when he came on, can say that. Even then it took us about 10 minutes to get the ball to him.

"You expect us to get a goal at Old Trafford and the intensity of our game improved a little bit in the second half. We had a lot of chances in the box but on the day we didn't take them."

Vidic's pre-match injury was given short shrift by Ferguson, coming after reports that the defender is unsettled in Manchester.

"I could not tell you what the situation is with Nemanja," he said.

And Assistant manager Mike Phelan did little to clear up the nature of the injury when he added: "Nemanja said he felt there was something that wasn't right with his body. So he came in and told the manager and myself and we made the decision to change it."

Phelan admitted the defeat was a "major blow" to United's season.

"We wanted to progress in this Cup," Phelan told BBC Sport.

"We need to be in finals in Cups like this. To go out at the stage we have done is not acceptable."

Manchester United now have to dust themselves down for the Carling Cup semi-final against local rivals Manchester City on Wednesday and Ferguson suggested that many of the team that faced Leeds would pay the price for an uncharacteristic display.

"We have to get this result out of our system as quickly as possible," commented Ferguson.

"We have a semi-final on Wednesday and a lot of these players won't be playing.

"You have to view this performance in the right light. We'll make sure we're ready for Wednesday now. We had a team in mind but there will maybe be a few changes for that."



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see also
Leeds to face Tottenham in FA Cup
19 Jan 10 |  FA Cup
Grayson talks up Beckford worth
03 Jan 10 |  Leeds
Manchester Utd 0-1 Leeds United
04 Jan 10 |  FA Cup
Ferguson handed Everton reprieve
19 Nov 09 |  Man Utd


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