Ferguson faith tested by official
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson claims it is "hard to keep your faith" in football after decisions like Nani's red card on Tuesday - but referee Cuneyt Cakir still insists he made the right call.
Cakir dismissed Nani for a high tackle on Real Madrid's Alvaro Arbeloa, adding to a disallowed Paul Scholes goal against Porto in 2004 and Rafael's red card against Bayern Munich in 2010 as examples of when refereeing decisions have gone against his side in the Champions League.
"It's hard to keep your faith when you see what's happened in the last few years," said Ferguson. "It's the third time we've been knocked out by a referee's decision and it's not easy to take."
The decision confirmed fears the United manager had about Cakir's appointment prior to the game, with the Turkish official having a history of sending off players from English teams, and Ferguson added: "I was concerned before the game. I said that to my staff. I had a big worry about it. But it's gone now. We have to get on with it."
Ferguson is unlikely to be impressed when he discovers Cakir has chosen to break his own silence on the matter to Spanish newspaper AS.
The United manager wondered whether there had been a Spanish influence over Cakir's appointment for the Old Trafford encounter, given Spanish federation president Angel Villar and Turkish federation chief Senes Erzik are chairman and deputy chairman respectively of UEFA's referee's committee.
Cakir has defended his decision to dismiss Nani, even though most observers - including Real coach Jose Mourinho but with the notable exception of former United captain Roy Keane - felt he had got it badly wrong.
"I feel well and I don't doubt my decisions," Cakir told AS. "The red card to Nani was correct. People will see that is the case in time."
Cakir also brandished other high-profile red cards in matches involving English teams, dismissing John Terry in Chelsea's Champions League semi-final second leg against Barcelona last season, Mario Balotelli in a Europa League game against Dynamo Kiev and, earlier this season, Steven Gerrard during England's World Cup draw with Ukraine and Gary Cahill in the Club World Cup defeat to Corinthians.
"In the previous games with the English teams there was no unfair decision," said Cakir. "What decision was incorrect? The red to Terry or Balotelli? I don't think I made a mistake in showing those cards and sending them off."
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