Fergie: Result was a travesty

United could now fall seven points behind leaders Manchester City

if they win at Liverpool on Sunday. But the result hinged on a

highly dubious penalty call, when United were leading through

Javier Hernandez’s second-half effort. When Rio Ferdinand slid in

on Hatem Ben Arfa, referee Mike Jones indicated a corner, only for

assistant John Flynn to signal a spot-kick. TV replays indicated

Ferdinand’s challenge had been legal but after discussing the

decision with Flynn, Jones refused to overrule his assistant and

Demba Ba tucked home the spot-kick. “Everyone was astounded,”

Ferguson told Sky Sports. “The referee was so near. He was only

eight yards away. “Whether he ever gets a game again the assistant

referee is not for me to decide. “But it was an absolutely shocking

decision. It costs you that. “Two years ago when the linesman gave

an offside goal for Chelsea it cost us the league.” Although

Ferguson did not claim the officials were unfit, as he did of Alan

Wiley in 2009, a statement he was forced to apologise for and still

received a two-match touchline ban, he did make one quite pointed

remark. “The problem is the referees are full-time and the linesmen

are not,” he said. Ferguson recounted an incident in the home game

against Sunderland earlier this month, when a linesman flagged for

a penalty, only for referee Lee Mason to, correctly, give the

decision in United’s favour as an example of what should have

happened. “We had a situation a few weeks ago,” he said. “The

linesman gave a penalty for a handball, which was obviously an

opponent’s hand. “He was put in a terrible quandary. He didn’t know

what to do. “But he knew fine well it was a handball from an

opponent and overruled the linesman. That is what he should have

done today.” Ferguson confirmed he had not spoken to Jones after

the final whistle. “I never speak to referees, never,” he said.

“There is no point.” United players surrounded Jones at the final

whistle, with Ferdinand, Patrice Evra and Wayne Rooney particularly

upset as they made their way off the field. Even Newcastle manager

Alan Pardew accepted his team had “got a break”, although he did

feel Ferdinand had taken a chance by sliding in. “It was a good

spell for us,” he said. “We put them under pressure and you can get

something when you do that, even against the best teams. “I thought

the tackle was risky. “He definitely played the ball. I have seen

it. “Whether the referee thought he took a bit of Hatem before he

got the ball is debatable. “If it was against me I would be very

aggrieved. “We got a break but we still had to score the goal and

Demba was very cool. The place was going mad. I wouldn’t have liked

to take it.” Newcastle deserved some credit for the barrage of late

attacks they managed to withstand, despite having Jonas Gutierrez

sent off. Tim Krul made a string of fine saves, former United

defender Danny Simpson denied Hernandez with a magnificent goalline

clearance and the Mexican had an effort ruled out for offside deep

into stoppage time. “It was a fantastic performance by us and an

incredible result. To not get the three points from that is just a

travesty,” said Ferguson. “I could see us scoring because we kept

creating chances and the normal pattern of these 15-minute surges

is that we create chances and we are okay. “They put their bodies

on the line. I give them credit for that. “We absolutely

slaughtered them but we just couldn’t get the result. “It is

disappointing but if we play like that every week, I will be very

happy.” After playing both Manchester clubs away from home on

successive weekends, Pardew declined to say who he thought would

end the season on top. He does think last weekend’s loss taught his

own side a valuable lesson that helped them immensely today. “It is

going to be about when they come up against the top teams,” said

Pardew. “That is going to be the difference. To say which one I

favour would be unfair on either camp. “I do know we sat off

Manchester City last week. “We made an error doing that. I felt we

were better today. “I don’t know where to start with the second

half. It was all going off. “Our attitude and defending deserved a

point. The heroism in that penalty box was unbelievable. They were

Geordie heroes.”