Ahead of tomorrow’s Manchester derby, Sir Alex Ferguson has been up to his usual tricks by talking about how many spot kicks City are awarded:
“The number of penalty kicks they get – 21 in the last year or something like that. If we got that number there’d be an inquiry in the House of Commons. There’d be a protest.”
As is often the case, Ferguson is lying to deflect attention from his team and put pressure on the referee (but more on him later).
In terms of penalties awarded, Manchester United lead the way in the Premier League this season with five for, and zero against. As an aside, my team Liverpool are currently joint bottom of the penalty table with Aston Villa, with none given for and three against.
Ferguson’s side also won the most penalties last season too – 11. Manchester City were next with eight, and both sides had three against. Since the start of 2008/09, when Sheikh Mansour took over City, the two teams are tied on thirty-three apiece, but clearly United have won more in recent times, and I’m sure Ferguson knows that.
With my Kop hat on, it’s very interesting to note that since the start of last season (and more specifically the 8-2 win over Arsenal, fifty-one games ago) Manchester United have been given sixteen penalties in the league. That’s the same as Liverpool have been given since Gerrard took one at Upton Park in 2008/09! 131 games ago, in other words.
Back to tomorrow, and the referee for the Manchester derby is Martin Atkinson. Whilst Ferguson probably made his penalty comment primarily because it is a big game, it’s interesting to note that Atkinson hasn’t ever awarded United a penalty in the twenty matches of theirs that he has taken charge of.
This means he has refereed more Manchester United games without giving them a penalty than any other current whistler. I suspect this has not escaped Ferguson’s attention and he is trying to influence Atkinson with his famous mind games. It’ll be interesting to see if United get a penalty tomorrow. It’ll be ‘mission accomplished’ by Ferguson if so.