Ferguson faces five-match touchline ban
As Manchester Utd go top, manager risks heaviest FA punishment ever
Sir Alex Ferguson's pleasure at seeing Manchester United back at the top of the Premiership after Chelsea's 2-1 defeat at Aston Villa and his own team's 2-1 victory over Bolton, is likely to be short-lived. Today he will hear from the Governance Division of the Football Association whether he is to face an improper conduct charge over his outburst at referee Alan Wiley two weeks ago.
Most observers believe he will - and that the charge will result in a hefty touchline ban, possibly for as many as five matches. It would be the heaviest punishment Ferguson has ever suffered in his 23 years managing Man Utd.
In his programme notes for the Bolton encounter on Saturday, Fergie said his anger at Wiley had been caused partly by his frustration at his team's display in their 2-2 draw with Sunderland that day. But everyone who was there, or who saw the highlights on Match of the Day, knows that Fergie was incensed because he didn't believe Wiley was adding enough injury time; every second counted as he urged on his players to get a third, decisive goal in a match which, on paper, Man Utd should have won easily.
But it was his remarks on the MUTV station afterwards that really got him into trouble. There, Ferguson lambasted Wiley for not being fit enough. "The pace of the game demanded a referee who was fit," he said. "You see referees abroad who are as fit as butchers' dogs....He wasn't fit." ·
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