ALEX FERGUSON could face Football Association sanction after he blamed an assistant referee for failing to award a penalty in Manchester United's 1-1 draw with Tottenham that trimmed their lead at the top of the Premier League.
In a game that only went ahead after a pitch inspection 70 minutes before kick-off, a 93rd-minute equaliser from Clint Dempsey saw United's advantage over Manchester City cut to five points.
Ferguson singled out linesman Simon Beck for not signalling for a foul by Stephen Caulker on Wayne Rooney when United were leading, accusing the official of having "a shocking game".
The United manager also recalled Beck's failure to award an offside against Didier Drogba in 2010, when the Ivorian scored the winner in a 2-1 win at Old Trafford that helped secure the title. Beck was dropped from the next round of fixtures for that decision.
Beck and referee Chris Foy both ignored United's appeals for a penalty when Caulker caught Rooney in the corner of the Tottenham box a minute after the United forward had come on as a second-half substitute.
"The stand-side linesman (Beck) didn't give us a thing all day. For me it was a poor performance by him. Why he never saw the penalty kick from Wayne Rooney - some other decisions. We remember him well from his time at the Chelsea game when Drogba was three yards offside and he gave onside. Everyone remembers that - I certainly do.
"He had a shocking game. I'm disappointed in his performance, I really am. He had a bad game and we never got anything on that side of the pitch. But you're 1-0 up with a minute to go and comfortable at that stage."
Ferguson was sanguine about his side's lead being cut, pointing out that United have played all the leading sides away from home now with the exception of Arsenal. "Everyone would recognise it was a difficult game. We have all the difficult games away from home so far so I think we can be pleased on that part. Other teams will drop points here, there is no doubt about that."
Andre Villas-Boas said a draw was the least his side deserved after dominating possession and chances, and welcomed a result that leaves them four and seven points clear of Everton and Arsenal respectively, though both have games in hand.
"I thought we deserved a little bit more, but a draw - we take it in the last minute. We tried to get the crowd behind us and go for the win, we were the best team and created more chances.
"I think this is possibly the worst United performance in terms of opportunities and it is credit for what the team is doing.
"Defensively and offensively I think we played really well, and it is credit to the players that they embrace this season, and how much they want this Champions League place."