Wenger: Fergie should be punished
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has reopened his long-standing feud with Sir Alex Ferguson by claiming the Manchester United boss should have been punished for his angry confrontation with the match officials during his side's Boxing Day win against Newcastle.
Ferguson launched an angry on-pitch outburst at referee Mike Dean and his officials after they allowed a contentious Jonny Evans own goal to stand in a game United eventually won 4-3 with a last gasp Javier Hernandez winner, yet it is the behaviour of Ferguson that has been the chief talking point in the days since.
The United boss escaped any punishment from the FA because Dean did not include the incident in his match report.
After being reminded that the same referee Dean sent him to the stands at Old Trafford for kicking a water bottle back in 2009, Wenger refused to refute the suggestion that some in the game are 'scared' of veteran United boss Ferguson.
"Why should the referees be scared of Ferguson?" asked Wenger. "You have to ask them if this is true, but this is a little bit of an idea that has been spread around the country. You have the rules, you have to observe them or not. The referees have to act on that. They are professional people and they have to act on that.
"The message it sends out when we see images is not to behave like that. They (Mike Dean) have made a mistake, they are honest, but they have made a mistake. If he (Ferguson) did not behave as he should have done, he should be punished. He will be the first to admit that. The rules are the rules. It's not rules for one person and not another.
"The Premier League is watched all over the world and this sets a bad example. Should we behave like that? No. I have not always behaved in the right way and when you go overboard, you have to be punished."
Wenger's comments add to those of Newcastle boss Alan Pardew, who was irate with the referee Dean's decision not to punish Ferguson, even though he appeared to blatantly breach FA guidelines against intimidating officials by confronting Dean at the half-time break in his side's defeat.
"Mike Dean might feel slightly disappointed he didn't do something about it because the pressure on the officials is tough to take for a referee," stated Pardew. "Sometimes when you reflect on a game and look back on it, maybe you might have acted differently.
"We do that as managers and I'm sure he might think that as a referee.
"Of course, it's an emotional game. Apparently they had a cordial discussion. I've had a few of them myself, but sometimes ended up in the stands with that cordial discussion."
The FA's Respect campaign, designed to improve the standing of match officials in the game, states that players and managers should "never engage in bullying, intimidation or harassment" of match officials, but that guideline appears to have been overlooked in this incident.