Football: Alex Ferguson dismissed Chelsea’s claim that Mark Clattenburg used “inappropriate language” towards John Obi Mikel today, saying: “I just don’t believe it.”
The Manchester United boss, whose side take on Arsenal this lunchtime in the Premier League, said there was “no way” the referee would have abused the Blues midfielder during the Old Trafford club’s win at Stamford Bridge last Sunday.
Police are investigating Chelsea’s allegations over Clattenburg, who is believed to strenuously deny he has done anything wrong.
Ferguson said: “I don’t believe Mark Clattenburg would make any comments like that. I refuse to believe it.
“I think it is unthinkable in the modern climate. I just don’t believe it — simple as that. There is no way a referee would stoop to that. I am convinced of that.”
The Scot’s comments drew an icy response from Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo, who said: “He likes to talk about other clubs. We tend not to, so I’ll leave it up to him. It doesn’t really affect me too much to be honest.”
United are within a point of Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table and will be hoping to cement their title claims with a victory over Arsene Wenger’s team, who famously lost 8-2 in this fixture last season.
The match will also see the first reunion of the Gunners and Robin van Persie, who swapped London for Manchester over the summer in a £24 million deal.
The Dutch striker has been in impressive form since his arrival at Old Trafford, scoring seven league goals to lead the race for the golden boot.
He is sure to receive a frosty reception from travelling Arsenal fans whose team have struggled in front of goal in his absence, even if the club’s second string plundered seven in a remarkable League Cup comeback at Reading on Tuesday.
Theo Walcott, who scored a hat-trick in that fixture, could start in place of the injured Gervinho, while Ferguson said he will be without defender Nemanja Vidic until Christmas following the Serb’s knee surgery.