Premier League

Vieira: United get home help from refs

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Patrick Vieira has launched a second volley at Manchester United by claiming the Old Trafford outfit get preferential treatment from referees.

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Last week, Vieira suggested United's decision to bring Paul Scholes out of retirement during the January transfer window smacked of desperation.

That claim brought a stinging response from Sir Alex Ferguson, who claimed Roberto Mancini was the desperate one for choosing to select Carlos Tevez, a player the City manager previously stated would never appear for the club again.

The Scot also stated that he had "plenty of ammunition" if City wanted to engage in a war of mind games.

And, based on Vieira's response on Wednesday, that is something City's Football Development Executive seems to want.

In the wake of Michael Oliver's refusal to give Fulham a last-minute penalty at Old Trafford on Monday evening that could have denied United two crucial points in the Barclays Premier League title race, Vieira has laid bare his belief that the Red Devils get preferential treatment.

"When United play at home they get some advantage that other teams don't get," Vieira told BBC Sport.

"When you go to United, Madrid, Barcelona, or Milan, it's always difficult for the referee to go against these kind of teams.

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"This is the way it is. It's something the teams who are used to winning get all the time, so we need to win games so we have this advantage in the future."

It will be interesting to see what Ferguson makes of those comments, particularly as United's repeated assertion in the wake of Monday's events was to point to the penalty Newcastle were awarded against them earlier this season for a perfectly fair challenge by Rio Ferdinand on Hatem Ben Arfa.

United have the high ground anyway at the moment as City's failure to beat Stoke on Saturday means they are now three points clear with eight games left, their biggest advantage of the season.

But, speaking at the Soccerex conference in Manchester, Vieira is refusing to give up and remains bullish about City's title chances.

"This is our moment," he said. "Since the start of the season we've been the best team and played the best football.

"I believe the club deserves it."

However, Vieira also conceded United are in pole position to claim a second successive title.

"When you are first you have the advantage, they are favourites," he said.

"It's important not to lose focus, so many things can happen.

"People try to build this fire between the clubs. The heat is going to get more and more."

Vieira's comments drew an immediate response from Rio Ferdinand on Twitter.

"Why is Viera so concerned with Man Utd....2 comments in a week or so....c'mon maaaaaan let it go," said the United defender.
 

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