Patrick Vieira says Manchester United get helping hand from referees
• 'When United play at home they get some advantage'
• City angered by interview with BBC and ban reporter
29 March 2012
Patrick Vieira has claimed that Manchester United have been helped to the top of the Premier League because of a culture of generous refereeing at Old Trafford.
Vieira, an old foe of United now working as City's football development executive, was answering questions about Fulham not being awarded an 89th-minute penalty in the 1-0 win for United on Monday that took Sir Alex Ferguson's team three points clear of City with eight games to go. The Frenchman was initially reluctant to enter the debate, pointing out that he did not want to say anything that could be construed as criticism of United, but then went on to admit he did believe United received preferential treatment.
"When United play at home they get some advantage that other teams don't get," Vieira said. "I think when you go to United, Madrid, Barcelona or Milan, when the referees referee these kind of games, it's always difficult to go against these kind of teams.
"This is the way it is. It's something the teams who are used to winning get all the time. We need to win games so we have this advantage in the future."
Vieira's comments initiated an indignant response from Rio Ferdinand, with the United defender posting his response, in his inimitable style, on Twitter: "Why is Vieira so concerned with Man Utd....2 comments in a week or so....c'mon maaaaaan let it go."
However, Vieira later did his best to dilute a potential row, with Ferguson due to hold his press conference on Friday, by claiming his comments had been "completely taken out of context" in the way the BBC had presented his interview. The former Arsenal player was unhappy that his comments about not wanting to criticise United and having not seen the Fulham match were not initially used. City have subsequently banned the BBC reporter who spoke to Vieira, though there is no argument about what he said of the different refereeing standards he believes are applied.
Those comments are unlikely to go down well at Old Trafford, where they point out that only West Bromwich Albion have conceded more penalties at home this season in the top division. Ferguson had warned last week he had "plenty of ammunition" if City wanted to criticise the champions and may respond by pointing out some of the refereeing decisions that have gone in favour of Roberto Mancini's team recently.
Gareth Barry could have conceded a penalty against Stoke City last weekend and Mario Balotelli's stamp on Scott Parker was missed before the Italian striker scored the winner against Tottenham Hotspur in January.
City's belief is that they have been on the wrong end of some poor decisions. Brian Marwood, the club's football administrator, has already made this point to the Professional Game Match Officials and the club were dismayed when Michael Oliver, the Premier League's youngest referee, failed to award Fulham a penalty after Michael Carrick had brought down Danny Murphy on Monday.
Vieira had also claimed last week that United had demonstrated "a little bit of weakness" bringing Paul Scholes out of retirement, leading to a counter-allegation from Ferguson that City had shown the greater "desperation" by recalling Carlos Tevez despite him "taking a five-month holiday in Argentina."
Mancini had previously said Tevez was "finished" at the club, but Vieira told the BBC in the same interview he was happy the player and manager had called a truce. "We're glad Carlos is back. The quality of these kind of players will be really important at this stage of the season. The issue was between him and the club. The players were really pleased to see him back."
Vieira also said City had been "the best team and played the best football". He conceded that United were in the best position – "When you are first you have the advantage, they are favourites" – but the sides meet at the Etihad Stadium on 30 April for a potential title decider and Vieira believes there may be one last twist. "This is our moment. I believe the club deserves it."
Actually it was not quite surprising when Man City, the only one, kept whining about Fulham not being awarded an 89th-minute penalty in the 1-0 win for United. The Fulham seemed to accept it but not Man City. Again it was easy to understand why all the reactions were all about. If they played best football and they are better team they should not try to bother other teams. They should concentrate on their game by winning their games. So no matter what happen in other games they should not been bother. They were on top for a long time and enjoying the best season. Suddenly they were losing points and Man United got back in title chasing. Nerves conquering their mind with pressure mounting. They are cracking.
Now not truth to themselves, they tried to look for excuses. They got one when Fulham was denied a penalty. They made a lot of fuss. This is kid attitude no gentleman at all. The blame should on them. They were losing points not because of Man United. The points were lost because they unable to secure all three points. Man United already look out of contender in the New Year. They lost to Blackburn and Newcastle. But they were not pointing fingers to other team.
This was said by Sir Alex Ferguson after 3-0 defeat at Newcastle, “It is advantage Manchester City, of course,” Ferguson said. “We had an opportunity, they played last night, we played tonight, they won theirs, we lost ours, so it is advantage to them now.’
He added, “We’re not panicking or anything, we’ve got the experience to cope with that. Losing the game, you don’t want it, but sometimes it happens and you have seen some of the results in the league recently. But obviously we need to get the show on the road in terms of the run in.”
He also did not criticize his player his players but went on praising his opponent. He said that “They scored a fantastic goal and that got them up and gave their support a lift. They were really aggressive against us. The first goal was a magnificent volley and the second was the killer, a marvelous strike from a free kick.”
So Man City just concentrated on your games.