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Five Aside

Vieira: Refs give United home favours

Patrick Vieira has risked the wrath of Sir Alex Ferguson again by claiming referees give preferential treatment to Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Fergie hits back at 'desperation' comments

• Vieira: Comments were misrepresented

Former Manchester City player Vieira said last week that United's decision to bring Paul Scholes out of retirement smacked of desperation - a remark that did not go down well in the red half of the city.

Ferguson responded by pointing at Roberto Mancini's recent use of striker Carlos Tevez, a player he had previously stated would never play for the club again. He also said he had "plenty of ammunition" if Mancini turned to mind games.

Now Vieira has accused officials of bottling big decisions at Manchester United's home ground, pointing at Michael Oliver's decision not to award Fulham a last-minute penalty on Monday after Michael Carrick tripped Danny Murphy.

''When United play at home they get some advantage that other teams don't get,'' Vieira told BBC Sport. ''When you go to United, Madrid, Barcelona, or Milan, it's always difficult for the referee 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, so we need to win games so we have this advantage in the future.''

A Manchester United response was forthcoming swiftly, as defender Rio Ferdinand took to Twitter to say: "Why is Viera so concerned with Man Utd....2 comments in a week or so....c'mon maaaaaan let it go!"

Ferguson may well follow with a retort, particularly as United's repeated assertion in the wake of Monday's events was to point to the penalty Newcastle were awarded against them earlier this season for a perfectly fair challenge from Ferdinand on Hatem Ben Arfa.

United have the high ground anyway at the moment as City's failure to beat Stoke on Saturday means they are now three points clear with eight games left, their biggest advantage of the season.

But, speaking at the Soccerex conference in Manchester, Vieira is refusing to give up and remains bullish about City's title chances. ''This is our moment,'' he said. ''Since the start of the season we've been the best team and played the best football. I believe the club deserves it.''

However, Vieira also conceded United are in pole position to claim a second successive title. ''When you are first you have the advantage, they are favourites,'' he said. "'It's important not to lose focus, so many things can happen. People try to build this fire between the clubs. The heat is going to get more and more.''

Vieira has since claimed his comments were misrepresented.


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