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 draw at Birmingham City.

Ferguson has only recently served a two-match touchline ban for criticising the fitness of referee Alan Wiley 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’s 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 Leeds United.

Rather than concentrate on the deficiencies of his players, Ferguson opted for a concerted attack on Clattenburg, saying: “I saw him referee Arsenal against Spurs recently and someone needed to take out an axe to get booked and then he sends someone off for that. It was very, very soft. I’ve not seen a softer sending-off for a long time, absolutely ridiculous. There were some weird decisions going on out there. The linesman gives offside for our goal and it’s an own-goal! (which negates offside). And he still gives offside.”