Patrice Evra calls for reflective stance
Patrice Evra believes Manchester United must look beyond their obvious frustration at an inexplicable penalty decision at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Rio Ferdinand admitted on Twitter after the 1-1 draw with Newcastle he felt unable to express his true feelings about linesman John Flynn for fear of ending up with a hefty fine.
Ferdinand did appear to mouth "joke" in the immediate aftermath of referee Mike Jones’ refusal to overrule his assistant, whom he consulted with despite having originally indicated the defender’s challenge on Hatem Ben Arfa was worthy of nothing more than a corner.
Sir Alex Ferguson went further, questioning whether Flynn should ever be appointed to another Premier League game and raising the issue of a disparity between full-time referees and part-time assistants.
This may warrant further action by the Football Association, especially as United’s in-house station, MUTV, appeared to cut a portion of Ferguson’s post-match interview with them out of their broadcast.
As MUTV were embarrassingly responsible for broadcasting the explosive comments Ferguson made about Martin Atkinson in the wake of his side’s defeat at Chelsea in March, which ended with him being forced to serve a five-match touchline ban, it may be nothing more than adopting a safety-first attitude on the station’s part.
Ferguson was clearly not happy though, a sentiment that could be applied to his entire squad and backroom staff, some of whom were still expressing their incredulity 90 minutes after the final whistle.
Evra was one of those who made his feelings plain to Jones as Demba Ba was celebrating his equaliser.
However, after a game in which United spurned half a dozen glorious chances, the France full-back feels his team-mates would be well served to adopt a more reflective stance.
"The referee took the responsibility. He went to see the linesman. He said, are you sure?" said Evra.
"He said he was sure it was a penalty so the referee trusted his man. What can you say about that?
"But we have to focus more on the chances that we missed because we could have won the game before that accident."
Unusually, Javier Hernandez was one of the chief culprits.
Although the Mexican opened the scoring, even if he did not know anything about it as Steven Taylor smashed an attempted clearance straight at him, the rebound bouncing into an empty net as Tim Krul had dived to save Wayne Rooney’s initial shot, he wasted "four one-on-ones" according to Ferguson.
In addition, he had a last-gasp effort correctly ruled out for offside, having already been foiled by former United full-back Danny Simpson, who was perfectly placed to boot a goalbound header off the line.
"I am keeping my head down," said the Salford-born defender. "I have already had a few texts from friends who are not very happy.
"There was a bit of banter with the players at the end, with them telling me I had spoiled their day.
"United are quality. When you look at the chances, people might ask why they didn’t win the game.
"You can see why they score so many late goals. They are so clever.
"Even with the offside, it was a relief."
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has certainly instilled an inner belief amongst his squad, who after last week’s defeat at Manchester City, must now steel themselves for yet another stern test, at home to Chelsea.
In contrast, United will lick their wounds and wait to hear whether the FA are going to take any action over Ferguson’s comments, with Evra believing they must find the scoring touch that has deserted them since that scintillating early season run.
"If we want to win the league, we have to score more goals," said Evra.
"Against Arsenal we created eight chances and scored eight goals. In this match we created seven chances and scored only one."
It has left United looking over their shoulders at a quickly-closing Tottenham, not to mention wonder at how best to overhaul Manchester City.
Not that Ferguson is giving off the air of a worried man.
"I will worry in April," he said, curtly, when asked about his fears.