Alex Ferguson drops Howard Webb for crucial derby match

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Alex Ferguson has controversially dropped talismanic referee Howard Webb from Man Utd’s starting 12 for the crucial Premier League clash with Man City, and will instead hand a start to Andre Marriner.

Early reports indicated that crowd favourite Webb would line up for the league leaders, but news has now surfaced that Ferguson is to take a gamble on Marriner.

Marriner, who has only made 3 starts for Man Utd this season, is a surprise selection by Ferguson, given Webb’s ability to pull highly contentious decisions out of the bag in big matches.

“Webby has put in some great performances for us in the past, but I feel the expectation levels of supporters could be too much for him on this occasion,” revealed Ferguson.

“I might put him on the bench as an impact referee in case we need one of their players sending off or a penalty deep into stoppage time.”

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The news of Marriner’s inclusion has left United fans miffed given Ferguson’s criticism of his performance in a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool in 2009.

“It doesn’t make any sense not to include Webbo,” said avid fan John Henderson, who has lived in Plymouth all his life and whose only connection with Manchester is that he once voted for Bez when he was on Celebrity Big Brother.

“In games like this you want your best performers on the pitch, and Webbsio pulling the strings is as good as going into the game with a two-nil lead.”

“I hope that Ferguson has seen something in Marriner in training that suggests he can rise to the occasion.”

“If City have still got eleven men on the pitch at half-time then I’ll be singing Webbsyio’s name.”

“I’ll be singing it at the TV, but rest assured that the wife will be left in no doubt about how angry I am.”