Carlo Ancelotti believes the five-match touchline ban handed to Sir Alex Ferguson by the FA is too strong

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti believes the five-match touchline ban handed to Sir Alex Ferguson by the Football Association is too strong.

The Manchester United manager was given the ban and a £30,000 fine for his verbal attack on referee Martin Atkinson at Chelsea last month.

However, Ancelotti believes the punishment does not fit the crime and questioned what the governing body is hoping to achieve with the ban.

“I think that, my opinion, is that Ferguson has always had good behaviour and I think five games now is too much,” he said.

“There is no reason he has to be out for five matches and I do not think that can change their strength and the power of Manchester United.”

He added: “I know what he said after the game. Obviously it was not good behaviour but five games is too much.”

Ferguson criticised Atkinson’s failure to send Blues defender David Luiz off for fouls on Javier Hernandez and Wayne Rooney after the Brazilian had already been booked, then expressed comments the FA disciplinary panel felt had questioned the official’s integrity.

“You want a fair referee, or a strong referee anyway – and we didn’t get that,” said Ferguson in the aftermath of the 2-1 defeat.

“I must say, when I saw who the referee was I feared it. I feared the worst.”

Ferguson must decide by Monday evening whether to challenge the ban.

The strict penalty has been greeted with surprise across the game, although the FA’s disciplinary panel has clearly decided they will not tolerate after further transgressions from Ferguson.

With a two-match ban now invoked as part of a punishment that was suspended last season for comments about Wiley’s fitness, the United boss has to work out whether to contest this punishment or accept his fate, knowing it will condemn him to the stands for the entire month of April, a period that includes the FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City.

“The (Independent Regulatory) Commission found the charge of Improper Conduct relating to media comments proven, following remarks made in relation to match official Martin Atkinson in post-match interviews after Manchester United’s fixture with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday March 1, 2011,” read an official FA statement.

“Furthermore the Commission invoked a two match suspended touchline ban, relating to a previous charge of Improper Conduct in relation to media comments made in October 2009.”

There is a school of thought that Ferguson has been extremely harshly treated given he replaced the word “fair” with “strong” almost immediately.

It could also be argued his pre-match view of Atkinson’s comments were vindicated by the decisions the referee got wrong, including Chelsea’s match-winning penalty, for a “soft” foul by Chris Smalling on Yuri Zhirkov.

However, it is also felt that the Wiley case represented a final warning to the United boss that any further transgressions would be dealt with severely, as has proved to be the case.

Clearly, it was not an outcome Ferguson saw coming when he penned his programme notes for Saturday’s FA Cup win over Arsenal.

“I now face an FA charge for what, to my mind, was simply telling the truth,” he said.

“I will be defending myself strongly when my FA appeal hearing comes up.

“To my mind, I have not said anything out of place, however much the media urge the FA to take action.

“I won’t be on the back foot when I put my case to the FA, though. I don’t think sticking up for my team makes me a villain.”


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