MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, April 8, 2011 (AFP) - Sir Alex Ferguson believes referee Lee Mason was pressured into writing the report that allowed the FA to charge and ban Wayne Rooney for his expletive-laden rant.
The Manchester United manager told reporters Friday he believed Mason had been ordered to mention that he would have sent off Rooney had he heard Rooney's tirade, a fact that enabled the FA to charge the England player.
Rooney's two-match ban was confirmed on Thursday after the FA dismissed an appeal from United for the severity of the suspension to be reduced.
Both United and Rooney have expressed their disappointment at the suspension, and Ferguson said he believed undue influence had been brought to bear on Mason, who he said had "put himself in a terrible position."
"He has been put under pressure. There is no doubt about that," Ferguson told a press conference.
Rooney swore directly into a pitchside television camera after clinching a hat-trick as United came from behind to beat West Ham 4-2.
"It is hard to imagine the referee would send a player off for scoring a hat-trick," Ferguson said.
"But (Mason) has now put himself in the spotlight. If he doesn't send a player off for swearing the question will be, has he got double standards.
"It is a very difficult position the lad is in. I feel for him. I really do. I don't know where his career is going to go now.
"I think he was put under pressure."
Ferguson admitted he had never held out much hope that Rooney's appeal would be successful but said the ban had knitted United closer as they continue to chase victory in the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.
"We put an appeal in. The lad has apologised for swearing but I don't think we expected to get a result," Ferguson said.
"It will bring us together. It is a plus for us."
"But we face the problem as we have a good squad who have showed fantastic determination recently.
"We are going to be hard to beat now, that’s for sure. The fans know the importance of being united at this moment in time. That will be a really good thing for us."
Ferguson was also quick to hit back Police Superintendent Mark Payne, accusing him of "needing to be noticed" after his comments about Rooney were reported in national media.
Payne, responsible for managing response to crime and operations in Wolverhampton, claimed he would have expected his officers to have arrested the England striker had he replicated his four-letter outburst at Upton Park.
"There’s an issue in the modern world of needing to be noticed," Ferguson said.
"A guy in the Midlands who has probably never been recognised in life who managed to elevate himself to whatever he is in the police force.
"But have you ever seen Birmingham on a Saturday night? Do police arrest people for swearing? Dearie me. That is a good one."