FERGIE in rage over red card

BIRMINGHAM - Sir Alex Ferguson may have landed himself in further trouble with the Football Association (FA) after his latest withering assessment of a referee.

The Manchester United manager was furious with Mark Clattenburg for sending off Scotland midfielder Darren Fletcher towards the end of the English champions' 1-1 Premier League draw away to Birmingham City on Saturday.

Ferguson has only recently served a two-match touchline ban for criticising the fitness of referee Alan Wiley earlier this season and has a two-match suspended sentence hanging over his head from the FA.

But that did not stop him from indulging in another spot of referee baiting at St Andrews following a match where a win for United would have seen them replace Chelsea at the top of the table.

Fletcher was dismissed for two yellow cards, the second of which was for a foul on Birmingham goalscorer Cameron Jerome three minutes from the end of another sub-standard performance by Ferguson's side, just a week after their FA Cup capitulation to third division Leeds United.

Rather than concentrate on the deficiencies of his players, Ferguson opted for a concerted attack on Clattenburg, saying: "I saw him officiating Arsenal against Spurs recently and someone needed to take out an axe to get booked and then he sends someone off for that.

"I've not seen a softer sending off for a long time, absolutely ridiculous."

Ferguson, who might well be asked for an explanation of his comments by FA officials, insisted he was happy with a draw against an in-form Birmingham side managed by Alex McLeish.

Meanwhile, Arsenal came away with a fortunate 2-2 home draw over Everton after Tomas Rosicky equalised in the final minute.

Everton were on course for a shock victory after South African midfielder Steven Pienaar scored a brilliant goal to put the visitors, who kicked-off four points above the relegation zone, 2-1 up with nine minutes left.

Other matches on Saturday and yesterday were postponed because of bad weather. - Sapa-AFP