Early Doors

Fergie should say what he wants – even if he’s wrong

Early Doors loves the idea of Alex Ferguson being asked to explain his comments about linesman Simon Beck.

Asked to explain.

That implies a degree of nuance, of uncertainty about what he said.

Well, here's a reminder of how he reacted to Wayne Rooney being denied what looked an obvious penalty.

"It was definitely a penalty. He has put his leg right in there. The linesman (Simon Beck) is facing it, I thought he had a very poor game, the linesman. I thought he was disappointing. We have got that history with him. He never gave offside with Drogba at Old Trafford when he was three yards offside. Everyone remembers that, I certainly do. For me it was a poor performance from him, why he never gave a penalty I don't know. I think he had a shocking game today, he's had a bad game and we never got anything from that side of the pitch."

For those on adjective watch, that's 'very poor', 'disappointing', 'poor', 'shocking' and 'bad'.
In terms of its openness to interpretation, it's not exactly the ending of the Sopranos, is it? Does Tony die at the end? Yes, he does. In a very poor, disappointing, poor shocking and bad way.

Now, Early Doors understands the FA has processes by which it has to abide.

Recently, it also wrote to Roberto Mancini to 'explain' his suggestion that, "The referee ate too much for Christmas," after Manchester City lost to Sunderland.

And it also wanted answers from Harry Redknapp after another dose of his tiresome passive-aggressive 'I never slag off refs but this guy was a disgrace' routine.

But the whole notion of an explanation is ridiculous.

It's clear what the managers said. And allowing them to get their excuses in first makes the FA look weak.

You don't have to belong to Conspiracy Theories International to believe that Fergie's comments could add pressure to match officials.

The odd thing was he picked on the linesman Beck instead of referee Chris Foy, who had a good view of Steven Caulker's challenge and should have awarded a spot-kick.

Do officials believe that giving decisions against United will have consequences? If they do, there's some evidence to suggest they are right.

Foy went over a year without reffing United after presiding over a defeat - likewise Mark Clattenburg after City's 6-1 win at Old Trafford.

The FA are to blame for this. They could avoid this nonsense by selecting their 'squad' of officials at the start of the season and putting them on a strict rotation - effectively appointing officials for every match in August.

Have a bad game? It doesn't matter, we have faith in you (at least until the end of the season).

Upset United/Arsenal/Chelsea/Liverpool? No problem. You're doing your job, and the fixture list decides when you next take charge of their games, not the managers.

You know what? It almost sounds like what football managers do. Instead the FA does all the managerial no-nos. It drops refs and linesmen after one bad performance, and it appears to bow to external pressure.

With a system like that, what manager wouldn't try to exploit it?

And what's more, with a stronger FA, we wouldn't have to react with horror every time a manager talks about officials.

If Fergie thinks the linesman had a bad game, why shouldn't he be allowed to say so - even if he's wrong?

We're all adults, and officials shouldn't need the FA to withdraw them at the first sign of criticism.

Let managers say what they want - and let the FA show its officials proper support.

WORST PROTEST OF ALL TIME: We were promised a Spanish-style waving of hankies to show Southampton fans' disgust at the Adkins/Pochettino switcharoo - instead the TV cameras captured all of two blokes holding up tea towels.

Anyway, a half-decent home draw with Everton proves BEYOND ALL DOUBT that Southampton were right to sack Nigel Adkins.

FOREIGN VIEW: Athletic Bilbao and Spain striker Fernando Llorente is poised to sign for Juventus in July.

The Italian champions have long been searching for a main striker and talks with Bilbao and Llorente have been going on for weeks with the option of signing the 27-year-old in January now unlikely.

"I'm optimistic on his contract. In any case, he will join Juve on July 1," Juve sporting director Beppe Marotta told Italian radio.

Llorente has barely featured for Bilbao since announcing his intention to leave when his contract ends in June.

He was a member of the Spain squad that won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.

Juve are still being linked in Italian media with a January move for Shanghai Shenhua's Ivorian forward Didier Drogba as they look to shore up their title charge after a stuttering start to the year.

There's a decent amount of football today. To wit: Aston Villa v Bradford City in the League Cup (19:45) plus Ivory Coast v Togo (15:00) and Tunisia v Algeria (18:00) in the African Cup of Nations. We have live comments on those, plus there's live scoring of Football League action, Celtic v Dundee United and a tasty-looking Coppa Italia tie between Juventus and Lazio.