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Ferguson promises to improve conduct

An embarrassed Sir Alex Ferguson faces a fine after being ordered from the dugout for the first time in his Premiership career during the 2-1 win at Newcastle.

Ferguson will become the first victim of the Football Association’s crackdown on misbehaving managers, the powers that be at Soho Square having decided that they must take action to stop the unedifying sight of them railing at match officials.

Ferguson was furious when referee Uriah Rennie, no stranger to controversy himself, failed to award a free-kick when Ryan Giggs was brought down by Newcastle defender Andy O’Brien in the 22nd minute of the midday kick-off. Had Rennie taken action, he would have had to send off O’Brien as the last defender.

It was another example of the inconsistency that so angers players and manager. Giggs limited himself to waving his hands in frustration but Ferguson came out of his dugout and remonstrated with fourth official Jeff Winter.

Ferguson appeared to swear at the official several times, dismissing the lack of a decision as “a joke”, whereupon Winter called over Rennie.

Following further words between the pair, Rennie walked to the dugout, to where Ferguson had retreated, and ordered him from the field of play.

Ferguson, who had another word with Winter before leaving, said later: “I was just angry that the free-kick was not given and that the red card wasn’t shown to their defender. I reacted in the same way that I have done on many other occasions with nothing happening.

“But I forgot that the rules have been tightened up this season. I will have to try to curb my behaviour in future.”

Ferguson watched the second half from the office of his Newcastle counterpart Sir Bobby Robson, who joked: “It has just been redecorated especially for him. He was given tea and biscuits and bacon sandwiches so I think Fergie has had a nice afternoon.”

Robson, however, was honest enough to admit that he feared the worst when O’Brien made his clumsy challenge on the edge of the box. He said: “We had a bit of luck on this occasion but sometimes, those things go against you.”

In the end, the incident did not alter the result since United, who fell behind to a goal from former England striker Alan Shearer before half-time, his third of the season, recovered to win 2-1.

Ferguson had several run-ins with officials as a player and manager in Scotland but in England, his touchline rants have never attracted the attention of the FA. Now, humiliatingly, he will have to explain his actions at Soho Square, which is sure to lead to a fine and a warning about his behaviour.

It seems unlikely, though, that he will be banned from the touchline. The problem has partly been exacerbated in recent years by the introduction of the fourth official, who is under instructions to order managers to return to their technical area before they have had time to let off steam. That certainly contributed to Saturday’s extraordinary scenes.

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