Arsene Wenger laughs at Sir Alex Ferguson over FA charge

Arsene Wenger has his own views on the referee selection process for Premier League fixtures

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Arsene Wenger reacted to news of Sir Alex Ferguson’s latest FA charge by laughing at the plight of the Manchester United manager.

Ferguson, who recently served a five-game ban for criticisms of a match official, this time faces punishment for praising Howard Webb. The offence is not the praise itself, but the fact he offered compliments to a referee prior to a match, contravening fair play rules.

Informed of Ferguson’s charge, Wenger quipped: “They are not used to him being complimentary. It was a shock to the FA!

“It doesn’t sound very serious. It doesn’t look a major problem to say somebody is good. I wouldn’t charge him for that.”

Wenger does, however, disagree with managers who speak about referees prior to kick-off, and the Arsenal boss suggested his own system to avoid the problem in future.

“Before a game I don’t like comments about a referee, you will never hear me saying anything about a referee before the game. After, I can understand that a manager should have freedom to express his frustrations sometimes.

“I personally believe we should not know the name of the referee before the game. It should be drawn 48 hours before the game, and therefore nobody should know the name of the referee. That would keep anybody out of problems before the game.

“England is not a massive country. If referees are known to have a liking for a certain club, keep them out of the draw [for the team in question]. But I believe this is the best way to take suspicion away.

“Same for Europe, because you’ve had problems before with Barcelona and Real Madrid, once nominations of the referee has taken place.”

Arsenal face Aston Villa on Sunday, and Thomas Vermaelen will end a nine-month absence from first-team action, replacing Laurent Koscielny. Gael Clichy is also back, but Abou Diaby (calf) and Tomas Rosicky (thigh) are out, while Cesc Fabregas (thigh) and Samir Nasri (hamstring) face late fitness tests.

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