Roberto Martinez: FA favour Sir Alex Ferguson
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez claims Sir Alex Ferguson has the football authorities in England gripped by fear and that his fellow Spaniard Rafa Benitez has been unfairly treated by the Manchester United manager and a group of staunch allies.
Martinez's complaint comes in the wake of Ferguson admitting an FA charge of improper conduct following his controversial comments about Alan Wiley's fitness earlier in the month. But the Wigan boss says any other manager in the Premier League would already have been 'crushed' by the governing body for making similar comments.
The outburst from Martinez will no doubt strike a chord with Benitez, who last season infamously claimed that Ferguson received preferential treatment from the game's authorities as he attempted to lay bare the 'facts' that he said were favouring United.
Benitez said in January: "During the Respect campaign - and this is a fact - Mr Ferguson was charged by the FA for improper conduct after comments made about Martin Atkinson and Keith Hackett. He was not punished. He is the only manager in the league that cannot be punished for these things."
In April, Benitez was then criticised by Blackburn Rovers manager Sam Allardyce for making a "disrespectful" gesture during a game, with the Spaniard accused of waving his hands as if to suggest the tie was over as a contest when Liverpool scored a second goal in a 4-0 victory. Ferguson subsequently accused the Spaniard of showing "contempt" to Allardyce, even though Benitez said his gesture had been misinterpreted.
Martinez now claims that Allardyce hopes to succeed Ferguson at United and that both he and Steve Bruce are willing allies of the United boss, who exercises too much power in the English game.
"They (the FA) have just sanctioned Ferguson for saying that referee was not fit enough and the truth is that they're almost apologising to him for punishing him,'' Martinez told Spanish newspaper AS. "Any other coach would have been crushed for that.
"Ferguson has been here for a lifetime and that carries a lot of weight. Ferguson has his group of faithfuls, people who are committed to him: Steve Bruce, who was a player with him, Sam Allardyce, who thinks he will be his successor at Old Trafford, and others. On the other side there's Rafa Benitez and he gets attacked from all sides."