Ferguson pessimistic on Fletcher final appeal

MANCHESTER: Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that he does not expect the club's appeal against Darren Fletcher's Champions League Final suspension to succeed.

The Scotland international midfielder is poised to miss the Rome Final against Barcelona after collecting a red card in the midweek semi-final victory over Arsenal.

Replays showed that Fletcher had made an impressively legal challenge on Cesc Fabregas but Italian referee Roberto Rosetti awarded a penalty against United and a straight red card against the player.

Although UEFA have indicated that there are no grounds for United to appeal the decision, and automatic suspension, United have pushed ahead with their attempt to have the decision overturned, although the manager holds out little hope of success.

"That (appeal rule) seems to be a weakness with UEFA," said Ferguson. "But we have written a compassionate letter to UEFA.

"We understand the system and honestly believe the referee made the right decision at the time. From his angle and from where I was, I thought it was a penalty myself.

"But from the replays it is obvious Darren managed to get his leg round and flick the ball away from Fabregas.

"We know Darren is an honest player. In fact, he is so honest, an old stager might have said, ?Go on and score,? given the position we were in. But Darren was still determined enough to try and do his job and prevent a goal.

"He?s quite a placid lad, he?s not an emotional boy, he accepts it although it?s disappointing for him, obviously. He takes great credit for the way he handled it all.

"But we?re not optimistic at all. We have to do it for Darren and in fairness to Darren. But, sometimes, in these situations when everything is addressed, you never know."

United?s game at the Emirates Stadium was not the only semi-final marred by refereeing controversy this week, with the performance of Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo the talking point of Chelsea?s defeat by Barcelona on Wednesday.

Some of Chelsea's players face disciplinary action after responding angrily towards the official at the end of their game and, while Ferguson refused to comment on the quality of the officiating, he could understand why the English club?s players responded in such an emotional fashion.

"I don?t want to get into that," he said. "But football creates emotions, there is no doubt about that. It is an emotional game, we have seen that emotion in football matches time and time again. After it, you cool down and say, I?m sorry I did that. It happens."

Ferguson had predicted a Chelsea victory prior to their semi-final, although he was ultimately far from surprised at the way events transpired at Stamford Bridge.

"Obviously, until three minutes into injury-time when Barcelona scored a goal, it looked as if Chelsea were there," he said. "But that?s football, isn?t it?"

Meanwhile, the United manager has confirmed that his hopes of seeing England defender Wes Brown make a contribution to the first team over the final weeks of the season has been ended by the player?s foot injury.

Ferguson said: "He has had a little setback during the week and it?s knocked him back. The fact the season is coming towards the end makes it difficult for him but with Gary (Neville) back, we?re not bad."