FA hit back after Fergie's claims of victimisation
The Football Association have deflected Sir Alex Ferguson's claims of victimisation by revealing Greater Manchester Police told them Gary Neville's wild celebrations contributed to the trouble which erupted at Old Trafford last Sunday.
Manchester United's last-gasp win over Liverpool sparked violence outside the ground immediately after the game that had some witnesses recalling the hooligan-ravaged days of the early 1980s.
Toilets were smashed in the visitors section of the ground and cars vandalised in the car parks outside and, according to GMP, Neville was partly responsible.
'Greater Manchester Police made it clear they believed the celebration to be inappropriate and Gary Neville's actions contributed to the disorder that followed,' said an FA spokesman.
'We also received a report from the referee and the assessor, which is why we decided to take the action we have.'
Neville has until February 10 to respond to the FA's charge of improper conduct, with a fine and a warning about his future behaviour the likely outcome.
Ferguson is not known for his confidence in the FA handling issues of this nature in an even-handed manner and the United boss feels this is another occasion when the power of the media has worked against his club.
The Scot is particularly upset at the number of times Neville's fist-pumping celebrations were shown on TV and believes the FA have reacted to that rather than the incident itself.
'The FA compliance office only reacts when the press writes it,' he said. 'That is a fact and it can't be right.
'You cannot be running a proper compliance office if it only reacts to what the press say. What are they doing during the week? Does nobody study videos, only read the papers. It is a problem.'
Ferguson is convinced United players are treated differently by the FA than those of any other club and was firm in his answer when questioned about the possibility of Neville being charged if he wasn't a Red Devil.
'Absolutely no chance,' he said. 'Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher ran the full length of the field with their fists raised at the Everton fans recently and not a word was said.
'At Manchester City, Robbie Fowler ran past our fans showing five fingers. Our fans surged to the front and the stewards had real trouble dealing with them and not a word was said then either.'