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Sir Alex Ferguson chastises David Luiz – But what was the real reason United lost to Chelsea?

May 6, 2013, 8:40 AM EDT

Referee Webb sends off Manchester United's Rafael Da Silva during their English Premier League soccer match against Chelsea in Manchester Reuters

Chelsea’s 1-0 victory over Manchester United was a rather drab affair until the final five minutes.

With the scored deadlocked at zero, Wayne Rooney possessed the ball on the edge of the Chelsea area when Ramires tackled him, prompting a Blues counter-attack. Rooney felt he had been fouled by the Brazilian but referee Howard Webb wasn’t interested.

Chelsea drove the length of the park, the ball eventually finding Juan Mata, who unleashed a shot that knicked off of Phil Jones’ leg before dinking off the post and into the goal.

Sir Alex Ferguson was not happy. After all, this was Old Trafford. And with the Premier League title already secured, Fergie, being Fergie, wanted even more. Specifically, he announced a few weeks ago that United’s goal was to break the record for points in the season.

Webb’s failure to whistle Ramirez’ alleged foul on Rooney turned Fergie a deeper hue of violet in the cheeks. But the referee’s decision to send off Rafael da Silva two minutes later prompted straight-up outrage from the Scottish gaffer.

The incident occurred near the corner flag. Luiz received the ball on the touch-line and da Silva immediately applied tight pressure. As Luiz shielded the ball his arms were raised and elbows appeared to fly freely, although they didn’t connect with da Silva’s head. The United defender stayed tight, nudging Luiz closer to the corner flag. Luiz then turned quickly and passed the ball away as da Silva swung his right leg, hacking down the Chelsea center-back. Luiz dropped to the floor, clutching his leg seemingly in pain before flashing a cheeky smile to the Chelsea faithful in the stand.

After the match Ferguson went berserk, claiming: “The ref has been bought by the fact Luiz is rolling about.”

The United manager continued: “He [Da Silva] retaliates but Luiz quite clearly elbows him twice, then rolls about like a diving swan and that convinces the referee. He was smiling. It’s bad. What kind of professional is that? He [Da Silva] was elbowed and he retaliated. That’s what always happens, the player who retaliates always gets the bigger penalty and it was clear that Luiz elbowed him twice.

“It was rash what he [Da Silva] did, he’s a young lad and should know better but retaliation never works. I wouldn’t say it was violent conduct. The referee hasn’t even seen it, I don’t think he could see it at all. But he has gone with the fact that Luiz has rolled about on the floor and I think that convinced him it was a red card.”

While it was predictable that Ferguson would focus at least some of his post-match comments on the da Silva sending, it had absolutely no bearing on the result of the game. United didn’t lose the match because da Silva, rightly or wrongly, was sent off.

United lost the match because Ferguson’s personnel decisions.

His first major decision was to play Anders Lindegaard over David de Gea. While Lindegaard is by no means a poor keeper, there’s a good chance that the gumby stretch of de Gea would have gotten to Mata’s goal-bound shot.

Ferguson also decided to play Anderson and Tom Cleverley in the midfield, leaving the likes of Shinji Kagawa and Wayne Rooney on the bench. Rooney would eventually sub on for Anderson in the 69th minute but when the time came to take off Cleverley, Ferguson made a defensive change, bringing on Alexander Buttner in the Englishman’s place.

It’s not that Ferguson’s decision to play Lindegaard, Anderson and Cleverley was poor, but it definitely came at odds with his aforementioned goal of trying to secure the points record, especially when he dolled out his best Starting XI against Arsenal last weekend.

So what changed over the course of the last week?

Did Ferguson suddenly decide that achieving the aforementioned points record no longer mattered?

Or did he just want to stick it to Arsenal?

They’re questions that were neither asked nor addressed at the post-match conference. But the fact is, United didn’t lose to Chelsea because David Luiz rolled about “like a dying swan.” United lost because Fergie didn’t put out his best side against a very dangerous and highly motivated competitor.


(Video of the Luiz/da Silva incident begins at the 1 min, 51 sec mark)

  1. dfstell - May 6, 2013 at 8:47 AM

    Ehh….you’re right. It’s all down to personnel decisions in this game. Honestly, play some of the B-team. Anderson and Cleverly don’t get that many minutes, so let them get out there. Same for Lindegaard. I think SAF just wants him to get a few more games so he qualifies for a winner’s medal.

    Plus, some of his regulars probably have assorted strains and pulls and could benefit from a lighter schedule now that the season is basically over.

  2. BigBeachBall - May 6, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    Stay calm, and carry on

  3. billobrienschindimple - May 6, 2013 at 10:22 AM

    Ever notice that when United lose it is ALWAYS the referees fault according to Ferguson. I cannot wait until the EPL is no longer held hostage by this man who thinks he is bigger and better than the league. His incessant whining is the single most reason I despise United.

  4. goonah4life - May 6, 2013 at 10:33 AM

    Sure, Fergie has the right to play some of the B-team. But it’s a little odd he chose to do so a week after fielding his full starting lineup against Arsenal. De Gea, Ferdinand, Carrick, Rooney, all of those players were fine to play 90 minutes a week ago at the Emirates but all of a sudden at home against Chelsea it’s time for Buttner to get see the field? All seems very odd and I think dumb Scot Fergie’s ulterior motives need to be questioned.

    Everyone said Fergie would undoubtedly field his strongest team against Chelsea because he dislikes Benitez but it is clear to everyone that Benitez will no longer be managing the side next season and most likely Fergie’s man-crush Mourinho will be back at the helm. Is it possible he fielded the weakened side to allow his friend to come back to a Champions League side while hoping that either Arsenal or Sp*rs missout? If Sp*rs do missout his chances of landing Bale increase substantially, while having Arsenal missout would no doubt bring a smile to Fergie’s ugly mug.

    Lastly, Fergie’s claim that the referee hasn’t seen Rafael’s challenge is COMPLETE nonsense. Anyone who’s played three minutes of soccer knows that there are corners of the field where anything goes and other corners where you must watch yourself because the linesman (or woman in this case) is right there. Massey was no more than two feet away when Rafael BLATANTLY kicked out at Luiz. Whether Luiz was hurt or faking is completely irrelevant, it was a rash decision that clearly deserved a straight red.

    All that said, while Fergie put on his angry face for the press after the game he didn’t even bother getting out of his chair when the sending off occurred. Because he simply didn’t care. It just ensured Chelsea would bag all three points which had been his goal from the start.

  5. scoocha - May 6, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    You can’t break the points record if you’re planning to play subs for the rest of the season.
    Is this right – has MU lost 4 times to Chelsea this season? 2 PL, 1 FA, 1 Cap One?

    • goonah4life - May 6, 2013 at 12:27 PM

      Only 3 times, MU beat Chelsea in their first PL meeting though that was when Di Matteo was still at the helm.

      That said, Fergie is 0-2-1 against “his boy” Benitez this year.

      • scoocha - Jun 17, 2013 at 11:57 AM


  6. gatorglover - May 6, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    The draw against Arsenal meant Man U could only achieve a max of 94 points this season. Chelsea’s point record is 95. So yes I guess you could say he gave up on the points record against Chelsea, because it was impossible to attain…

  7. charliej11 - May 6, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    The season ended weeks ago. Why even play the games ?

    I understand you have to for the other teams trying to make the playoffs…so he fields his B team, who cares, the season is over and has been for quite a while now.

  8. adamthemanc - May 6, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    The problem here is the inconsistency of the referees… For instance, how did Aguero get away completely scot free with his double footed jump on Luiz in the Chelsea v City FA cup semi?
    Rafael’s was never a sending off… a yellow, yes, but never a red!… Yet another example of the officials deciding a football match, it’s happening way too much!

    Oh and Goonah4life, Sir Alex is 71 years old, he is having a major hip operation at the end of the season, if the legend doesn’t want to get up out of his seat, then he certainly doesn’t have to… Come back when you’ve learned a bit more about football!

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