Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson might have been caught up in the heat of the moment, but to declare Swansea defender Ashley Williams “could have killed” Robin van Persie is barely in the Christmas spirit.
Williams and van Persie were involved in an on-field altercation during the 1-1 Premier League draw at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.
With the United striker appealing for a penalty while on the ground following a challenge from Nathan Dyer, Williams fired the free ball into the top of van Persie’s head.
The Holland international immediately reacted furiously, but fortunately for him, fell as he approached Williams before any further knee-jerk response took place.
Referee Michael Oliver cautioned Williams, 28, for the offence once the temperature had cooled on the field, but Ferguson voiced his anger in a post-match interview.
Ferguson also called for Williams, to be banned for “a long, long time” in the interview, although the Welsh international captain insists the kick was not deliberate.
In a year during which Premier League football has found itself persistently at the wrong end of the negative scale, is Ferguson right to round off 2012 with such a charge aimed at another player?
Of course not, but in the aftermath of the Premier League’s very own annus horribilis, where racism, tasteless chants and coin-throwing all reared their ugly heads, nobody needed a further indictment of the game.
Ferguson, though, is a master of the art of covering up his team’s failings with a rant about some other issue within the game, ensuring any poor United display does not make the headlines.
Only Jose Mourinho has matched his United counterpart in this area.
The draw at Swansea meant title rivals Manchester City would cut the gap on United to four points heading into the Christmas period.
Not a position Ferguson will have enjoyed, but from a cynical point of view, his outrageous view on Williams has seen Roberto Mancini's team knocked off the back pages.
Much of the time, Ferguson can capture the zeitgeist, but on Sunday, his reaction was well over the top and woefully executed.
Intent would be difficult to gauge from television replays, but it is doubtful that Williams, a respected professional in the game, would wish to maim or indeed “kill” a fellow player.
Other Premier League managers have already weighed in to defend Williams from the accusation levelled by Ferguson.
The Swansea defender will not face further action from the Football Association, but then again, neither will Ferguson.
There is little debate, however, which of the two men was more clearly in the wrong on this occasion.
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