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Ferguson slams ''weird and wonderful'' Clattenburg

Sir Alex Ferguson risked the wrath of the Premier League once more with his post-match criticism of referee Mark Clattenburg's ''weird and wonderful'' performance in his side's 1-1 draw at Birmingham.

• McLeish: Collective spirit is the key

Ferguson was banned for four games, two of them suspended, and fined £20,000 for comments about the fitness of Alan Wiley after October's draw with Sunderland.

He was also warned about his future conduct, but today labelled the dismissal of Darren Fletcher ''ridiculous'' and was also bemused after United's goal initially seemed set to be disallowed for offside.

The flag went up against Wayne Rooney, itself a marginal call, but the goal stood after it was established that Blues defender Scott Dann got the crucial touch.

Ferguson told ESPN: ''I've not seen a softer sending-off for a long time. It's absolutely ridiculous, really. I've been watching Mark Clattenburg this season. He did the Arsenal-Tottenham game - you had to have someone hit with an axe before he'd book anyone in that game, and he sends a player off here.

''There were some wonderful and weird decisions out there. The linesman gives offside for our goal - it's an own goal, and he gives offside! Anyway, we carry on.''

The Red Devils had trailed to Cameron Jerome's opener late in a first half which Ferguson's men dominated, and the United boss continued: ''We played absolutely brilliantly in the first half and to lose a goal right on half-time was a sickener.

''Birmingham are in real good form, they work so hard and make it difficult for you so we've got to be satisfied with a point, particularly as we've ended with 10 men.''

Opposite number Alex McLeish felt the sending-off boosted his side, and told ESPN: ''We knew United have a habit of scoring late goals but when Fletcher went, it possibly gave us a bit more impetus and we could have won it in the end.

''We could have won it in the end, if Cameron could have taken care of a ball. He could have rolled it across the face of goal and wee Chucho (Cristian Benitez) would have surely had a tap-in.

''We're not saying we're disappointed, we're playing against a great side - albeit missing a few - but that was another fantastic performance.''


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