united boss on referees

Fergie: Refs must improve decision making

November 14, 2008

Sir Alex Ferguson feels Premier League referees need to stop talking about their fitness - it is their speed of thought that really needs to improve.

After a spate of confrontations, one of which has landed Ferguson with an FA improper conduct charge following an altercation with Mike Dean after Manchester United's narrow win over Hull earlier this season, the League Managers Association have called for the much-trumpeted Respect initiative to be reviewed.

Some managers have even threatened to withdraw co-operation altogether in protest at what they see as falling standards.

Ferguson has until next Thursday to respond to his own charge. However, with the principle of full-time officials now well established, it is no longer enough to trumpet how fit referees are.

He feels they should be subjected to the same kinds of training captains of industry are used to.

''Training people to make decisions is important,'' said Ferguson. ''It is the same with any walk of life. It is why you have apprenticeships in engineering or courses in management.

''You need to hone skills, improve and develop them. Referees have to be the same. Making decisions quickly and accurately is key. It is not about fitness. Referees are full-time. We expect them to be fit. It is their decision making we want to improve.''

Ferguson cites Cristiano Ronaldo as a prime example. As a raw 17-year-old, he arrived at Old Trafford with too much desire to entertain and not even consideration for an end product.

Now, after many hours of practice on United's training ground, Ronaldo has been crowned world player of the year.

''When he was 17, we had a job to do with Cristiano in terms of his decision making,'' said Ferguson. ''Everyone said he was a one-trick pony. But if you see him now, his decision making is fantastic.

''Referees have to make sure they are doing the best training possible because their decisions need to be quick and accurate.''

Nevertheless, Ferguson accepts there are occasions when, no matter what training a referee has had, he will make a decision a manager does not agree with.

''It is about how it affects your own team,'' said the Scot. ''Every manager will be the same. That will never be any different.''