Sir Alex Ferguson claims his anger at Manchester United’s performance against Sunderland two weeks ago prompted his stinging criticism of referee Alan Wiley, which has left the Scot facing an FA charge.
Ferguson accused Staffordshire official Wiley, 49, of taking thirty seconds to book players as he ‘needed a rest’ and also suggested that he was not fit enough to referee a game at Premier League level.
The United manager has since apologised publicly for his comments and a letter explaining his remarks was received by the FA on Friday.
His apology was dismissed as ‘half-hearted’ by referees’ union chief Alan Leighton and Ferguson is still facing a fine and possible touchline ban. The FA are expected to charge him with improper conduct on Monday.
But in his programme notes prior to United’s Old Trafford clash against Bolton on Saturday, Ferguson claimed that his referee rant was due to his frustration at a poor performance by his players.
Ferguson said: “We got out of jail in the final seconds for a 2-2 draw (against Sunderland) but frankly we had an off day.
“We kept going and we had a bit of luck with our late equaliser. We certainly weren’t firing on all cylinders in that game.
“Our passing was quite out of character which is perhaps why my feelings afterwards got the better of me with regard to the referee.
“I felt later that it was fair to apologise. I hope he has accepted my apology because I have always respected Alan Wiley, who is a good referee, and my remarks were not intended to be a slur on his integrity.
“By the time you read this (programme notes), I hope I shall have had the opportunity to speak to him personally after taking a break in the States.”