MANCHESTER: Alex Ferguson launched an extraordinary attack on referee Alan Wiley after Manchester United’s 2-2 draw with Sunderland, claiming he wasn’t fit enough to officiate at the highest level.United needed a 93rd-minute deflected Patrice Evra effort to earn a point against a Sunderland side who almost caused the surprise of the season. Darren Bent’s seventh-minute strike was cancelled out by a stunning overhead effort from Dimitar Berbatov early in the second half before Kenwyne Jones again restored the visitors’ lead.Steve Bruce’s side looked to have done enough to hold onto all three points before Evra’s edge-of-the-box effort took a huge deflection off Anton Ferdinand to equalise.Ferguson was unhappy with how United had performed but he saved his greatest ire for the referee in a 60-second rant where he outlined that he believed his side deserved more time after their equaliser to try and find a winner. But Football Association chiefs are likely to take a dim view of his comments, particularly his opinion that Wiley booked players just so he could catch his breath.”I was disappointed by the referee I must say,” Ferguson said. ”He didn’t add any time on for the goal we scored. He blew after four minutes and two seconds and there was another 30 seconds.”He actually walked after the second goal needing a rest. He just wasn’t fit enough for a game of that standard. The pace of the game demanded a referee who was fit and I do not think he was fit.”I think it is an indictment of our game. You see referees from abroad who are as fit as butchers’ dogs. And there are some referees in this country who are fit – but he wasn’t fit.”Ferguson’s outburst is perhaps a calculated attempt to divert attention away from the fact that without Ryan Giggs United looked anything but a Premier League-winning side. Paul Scholes, who had been in terrific form prior to this game, was removed at half-time following a terrible performance.Either way, Ferguson was not a happy man, despite one point being better than none at all.”We gave the ball away continually,” he said. ”And I thought we were there then because the surge was there and the crowd was there but then we gave away a really soft second goal. Credit to the players though, they never gave in, which is a quality we always have.”It is 41 years since Sunderland have won at Old Trafford but they had a golden opportunity on Saturday to end that unenviable record.However, the draw moves them to sixth in the table and underlines their credentials this season.They only narrowly avoided relegation last season and although Bruce was shattered by only getting one point rather than the three his club deserved, it is at least an indicator of how far Sunderland have progressed. AFP
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