Daniel Gregory: Fergie’s comments open up wider issues within the game

Tweet me your thoughts on Sir Alex Ferguson's comments @mrdanielgregory
Tweet me your thoughts on Sir Alex Ferguson's comments @mrdanielgregory

When Alan Pardew pushed fourth official Peter Kirkup in August, he gave up all the rights he previously had to even contemplate criticising officials or other manager’s interaction with them.

So I was very surprised to see that the Newcastle boss had discussed Mike Dean’s decision not to report Sir Alex Ferguson after he confronted him during their seven-goal thriller on Boxing Day.

Sir Alex Ferguson, right, has criticised Alan Pardew in the aftermath of Manchester United's victory

Sir Alex Ferguson, right, has criticised Alan Pardew in the aftermath of Manchester United's victory

Pardew said afterwards: “I think Mike Dean might feel slightly disappointed he didn’t do something about it.

“I think the pressure that was on him was tough for a referee to take. I think there were a lot of things the FA could look at. But it seems they are looking at none.”

It is true, Ferguson is the best when it comes to playing the mind games with fellow managers and officials alike. Nine times out of 10 he will get the better of the battle.

Here is one of those cases. Pardew is bang to rights.

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew during the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday December 26, 2012. See PA story SOCCER Man Utd. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew during the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday December 26, 2012. See PA story SOCCER Man Utd. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.

For any manager at any level, to physically push an official is a total disgrace.

He managed to get away with a lenient punishment, yet here he is discussing other manager’s dealings with match officials. Scandalous.

We need some consistency here.

Paolo Di Canio was handed an 11-match ban and a £10,000 fine when he shoved referee Paul Aldcock to the ground in 1998. How can Pardew get away with just a two-match touchline ban and a £20,000 fine?

ENTERPRISE NEWS AND PICTURES                                           18/8/12'PIC SHOWS: Replay of Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew pushing referee's assistant Stuart Burt after claiming that the ball went out of play during a Spurs attack during the premiership match today, shown tonight on Match of the Day on BBC1 HD. The Magpies boss apologised afterwards for his moment of "stupidity" and could now face a touchline ban or a fine from the FA as a result.'See story...

ENTERPRISE NEWS AND PICTURES 18/8/12'PIC SHOWS: Replay of Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew pushing referee's assistant Stuart Burt after claiming that the ball went out of play during a Spurs attack during the premiership match today, shown tonight on Match of the Day on BBC1 HD. The Magpies boss apologised afterwards for his moment of "stupidity" and could now face a touchline ban or a fine from the FA as a result.'See story...

It doesn’t make any sense to me.

Ferguson’s comments have opened up wider issues here though.

I am amazed that as a sport, football still persists in allowing officials to be treated the way they are.

The Respect Campaign was a total and utter joke in my opinion. How can grass roots and junior footballers aspire to respect officials when they see their heroes behaving in the manner that they do.

You see players like Wayne Rooney, Luis Suarez and Ashley Cole constantly swearing at officials and it has to be stopped.

If I walked up to a referee playing for Scalby and hurled the abuse the top players do, I’d be sent for an early bath. And that is how it should be.

Look at rugby and cricket as a perfect example of the way in which players should deal with, and respect match officials.

Rugby players have to address the match official as sir, and you very rarely, if ever, see cases of dissent in the game.

Cricketers are fined for all sorts of things. If a bowler doesn’t turn around and face the umpire when appealing, he is fined, and that is the way it should be.

I have had my incidents with referees in the past when my mouth has got the better of me, but I would never swear at one and most of them will tell you that. So why should a paid professional who is supposed to be setting an example to millions of fans be able to do so?

It’s a baffling one for me. Yes, it would take time to implement such a new rule change, but it would work eventually.

I think in the long term we could handle a rise in yellow and red cards in the hope that players will start to respect officials and show some humility on the pitch.

Finishing on the issue of Ferguson’s comments, there will no doubt be a few irate Geordie’s around today.

To call Newcastle United a ‘wee club in the North East’ is a tad disrespectful.

The ‘Toon Army’ have their critics. At times they get a little bit excited by their own hype and maybe get a step or two ahead of themselves.

But are they a ‘wee club’? I don’t think Ferguson really means that for a minute.

Any club who consistently fills a 52,000 capacity stadium has to be ranked as a fairly big club, despite their lack of success on the pitch in recent history.

Yes, it helps that they are a one-city club, but I’ve witnessed some incredible atmosphere at St James’ Park and I think Ferguson’s tongue-in-cheek comments need to be taken with a pinch of salt by all those Geordies reading them, no matter how tough that may be.

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