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Ferguson hits back at police chief

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has roared back at the police chief who claimed Wayne Rooney's conduct against West Ham was worthy of arrest.

• Mancini: Rooney ban no boost for us
• Rooney ban upheld by FA
• Rooney sorry for outburst
• First XI: Footballers and swearing

Rooney was handed a two-game ban by the FA after swearing into a camera at Upton Park last Saturday, meaning he will miss the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City.

Now Ferguson has accused superintendent Mark Payne of courting the limelight with his assessment of the situation. "Everyone has an opinion today," he said.

"There is an issue in the modern world of a need to be noticed. There is a wee guy, sitting down there in the Midlands, probably never been recognised in his life, managed to elevate himself to whatever it is in the police force.

"Have you ever seen Wolverhampton on a Saturday night? Do police ever arrest anyone for swearing on a Saturday night? Deary me. That is a good one."

Ferguson has also expressed sympathy with referee Lee Mason, who he feels was pressurised in the wake of the West Ham fixture. "The one I feel sorry for is Lee Mason," he said. "He has put himself in a terrible position. He has been put under pressure. There is no doubt about that.

"It is hard to imagine the referee would send a player off for scoring a hat-trick. But he has now put himself in the spotlight. If he doesn't send a player off for swearing the question will be, has he got double standards.

"It is a very difficult position the lad is in. I feel for him. I really do. I don't know where his career is going to go now. I think he was put under pressure."

Rooney was unsuccessful in his bid to overturn the suspension, and Ferguson has suggested his plea for a rethink was a futile exercise. "We put an appeal in, and the lad's wrote and apologised for swearing, but obviously I don't think we expected to get a result, to be honest with you," he said.

On the injury front, Ferguson has received a boost with the news that Rafael da Silva, who was carried off in the Champions League quarter-final first leg against Chelsea, will be fit for the Old Trafford return on Tuesday. The United boss also suggested he would reshuffle his pack against Fulham on Saturday, with one eye on the Chelsea clash.

"Rafa won't be fit tomorrow, he's got bruising and we sent him for a scan, which showed no ligament damage," Ferguson said. "No knee damage at all, so I think he'll be good for Tuesday. John O'Shea and Wes Brown are fit again. Anderson played last night [for the reserves] and will be available for tomorrow. There will be some changes."

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