Losing referees Riley and Styles worse than losing Ronaldo, says Ferguson

author avatar by 15 years ago

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has claimed that recently retired referees Mike Riley and Rob Styles are a bigger loss to his team than departed Cristiano Ronaldo.

United stuttered through an unconvincing 1-0 opening day victory against Premier League new-boys Birmingham City, and Ferguson’s men were clearly missing the threat normally posed by compliant match officials.

Despite a win secured by a Wayne Rooney goal, Ferguson was less than pleased with how his team had coped with the new refereeing roster.

“A win is a win, but the nature of the victory was more than a little concerning,” said Ferguson in the post-match press conference.

“People will point to the 20-odd goals you could expect from Cristiano, but nobody ever mentions the sterling work done by Riley and Styles in creating those goals.”

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“Those guys were real team players, the unsung heroes of much of our success.”

“They would contribute all over the pitch, not just with favourable penalty decisions in both areas, but with 50/50 challenges all over the pitch,”

“There is also the awarding of free-kicks in shooting range and the numerous goal line clearances.”

“But most of all, I think we’ll miss their uncanny ability to make the game seem longer than it’s meant to be when we really, really needed it.”


A Premier League official has reacted to Sir Alex’s claims by leaping to the defence of the new referees.

“They’re just learning the ropes, and obviously don’t yet know the Premier League hierarchy that’s currently in place.”

“But we’ve invested heavily in their development and they’ll be up to speed soon enough, it’s just a matter of gaining the right experience.”

“And nothing gives you that experience like being subjected to a 96th minute spittle-infused rant from Sir Alex.”

“After that, I am sure they will be significantly more compliant.”

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