The Mail on Sunday

IT’S YOUR TITLE

Angry Ferguson admits defeat as Chelsea punish miserable United

- By Rob Draper AT OLD TRAFFORD

SIR ALEX FERGUSON all but conceded the title yesterday after an abject performanc­e from Manchester United and poor officiatin­g saw Chelsea record a hugely significan­t 2-1 win at Old Trafford to go two points clear at the top of the table.

With injured Wayne Rooney looking on from an executive box, his United team-mates struggled dreadfully and a subdued Ferguson accepted the potentiall­y decisive nature of the defeat after goals from Joe Cole and Didier Drogba.

Ferguson said: ‘Chelsea are definitely the favourites now, no question. They are in the driving seat. I’m certain we’ll respond but we could win all five of our games now and still not win. They have a better goal difference so they’re in a great position.’

Ferguson pointed to clear errors by the officials in an attempt to mitigate the criticism of his team.

Drogba’s goal was clearly offside, with assistant referee Simon Beck failing to signal despite being in a clear position to see, and Federico Macheda’s late reply for United was handled into the net.

Both Ji-Sung Park and Nicolas Anelka were denied first-half penalties by referee Mike Dean, whose appointmen­t had been criticised in the run-up to this match after the high-profile error he made in wrongly awarding Blackburn a penalty last weekend.

Ferguson, who is still serving a suspended two-match ban from the Football Associatio­n after branding referee Alan Wiley unfit earlier in the season, was again damning of the officials’ performanc­e.

He referred back to United’s defeat earlier in the season at Stamford Bridge, where John Terry scored a controvers­ial goal.

Ferguson said: ‘When you see it is Mike Dean today you worry. A lot of people criticise him but I won’t go down that road.

‘What I can’t understand is that the assistant referee was directly in front of him [Drogba] for the

 ??  ?? HE THINKS IT’S ALL OVER: Sir Alex Ferguson shows his despair
HE THINKS IT’S ALL OVER: Sir Alex Ferguson shows his despair

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