The United manager claimed that only four minutes injury time added on was an “insult to the game”. Ferguson complained that four minutes was “ridiculous”, denying his side a “proper chance to win the football match”.
There are those who will roll their eyes to the sky at the suggestion that a Manchester United side looking for a late equalizer at Old Trafford were not given an adequate amount of injury time. Ferguson has, over the years, had certain mystical powers over referees and their assistants alike.
Rival fans would point to the high number of penalties given for the home side at Old Trafford, as well as the strangely generous injury time that is allocated when they’re looking for a late winner, along with the stingy allocation when they are just clinging on to three points.
Ferguson has been known to criticize referees publicly and has earned himself a reputation for making excuses upon a defeat. Perhaps his side could have won the game in extended injury time but, had they have not lost the game in the preceding 90 minutes, he might have more cause for complaint.
He suggested that referees should not be in control of time-keeping, describing it as an “obvious flaw in the game”. Perhaps the United manager would prefer it if he could be responsible for the allocation of injury time. Now there’s an idea.
But is there a possibility that Ferguson has lost his edge when it comes to his ability to intimidate officials? In the name of neutrality, he’s not the only manager guilty of touchline gesturing, fourth official ear-bashing, and 'oh look at the time' watch-checking. However, he is probably the most successful at it.
Manchester United do tend to tend to win at Old Trafford – mostly because they are the better team – but sometimes, because they are 'lucky' – lucky to grind out that result through a late winner on an 'off day', lucky to get that 'soft penalty' that could have gone either way, and lucky to have a manager that strikes fear into the hearts and minds of referees.
I suppose they were a little unlucky on Saturday. They were unlucky to have hit the crossbar, and the bar, and unlucky that Spurs were allowed to have a goalkeeper in their team.
But they weren’t unlucky to lose the game – Spurs deserved their away victory because of their industry and conviction. They won the game in 90 minutes because of that. Kagawa scored United’s second goal in the 53rd minute of the game. His side had a further 37 minutes to find an equalizer. Plus those four minutes of added time.
image: © marcel sigg