Sir Alex Ferguson launched a bitter attack on Joe Cole for the tackle he felt should have seen Chelsea reduced to nine men at Old Trafford on sunday.
Chelsea were already a goal and a man down when Cole launched himself at Cristiano Ronaldo during the second half of his side’s 2-0 defeat to Manchester United.
Getting nowhere near the ball, Cole caught Ronaldo crudely on the ankle, but was only booked by referee Mike Dean, a move which triggered a furious reaction from Ferguson, whose mood had not changed after the final whistle.
“Joe Cole should have been sent off,” said the Scot. “Tackles like that are a danger to players. He went right down the back of his leg and could have done some real damage.
“It is the type of thing Cristiano is facing all the time now, but Cole got off with it because the referee was balancing things out after the first sending-off.”
Ferguson’s attack cut little ice with new Chelsea boss Avram Grant, who was hugely critical of Dean’s performance.
Chelsea have already launched an appeal against the dismissal of Mikel Jon Obi for what Dean felt was a two-footed tackle on Patrice Evra just after the half-hour mark.
TV replays showed the Nigerian, who left United for Chelsea in an acrimonious Â£12m deal after refusing to play for the Red Devils, had made contact with only one foot, but did have his studs raised.
If that was not bad enough for Grant, who replaced Jose Mourinho as manager earlier this week and was then forced to listen to Chelsea fans sing in their former manager’s honour, the Israeli also reckoned Carlos Tevez’s opener came well after the allotted two minutes of first-half stoppage time.
He also felt an already-booked Wayne Rooney should have been sent off for charging
into the back of Ashley Cole before his misery was compounded by a debatable penalty converted by Louis Saha after the Frenchman had tumbled theatrically under minimal contact from Tal Ben Haim.
“Sir Alex Ferguson can be more than happy with the referee today,” said Grant.
“The referee tried his best, but he made three mistakes; the red card, their first goal and the penalty. I am also surprised Rooney was not shown a second yellow card.
“Maybe I am being naive but I wonder what Sir Alex’s reaction would have been if he was in my position.”
Ferguson agreed with Grant that Mikel’s dismissal and the late penalty were ‘harsh’.
However, given his stance on Cole’s tackle and a lunge by the England man on Evra after the defender had charged into the area which went completely unpunished, Ferguson felt the decisions evened out.