It’s hard to take seriously an ex-referee who once showed the same player three yellow cards in a game. But it’s also hard not to be concerned after Graham Poll revealed the extent of Alex Ferguson’s influence on match officials.
Recently, another former ref, Mark Halsey, caused a stir when he wrote in his autobiography about his chummy relationship with former Manchester United manager, Ferguson.
Halsey admitted that he and Fergie would exchange text messages and phone calls, leading the conspiracy theorists to thunder that they were right all along and United’s domination of the Premier League had as much to do with Fergie’s influence behind the scenes as his skills as a manager.
While he insists that he was never consciously influenced by a raging Fergie, Poll admits that he and other refs may subconsciously have been forced to act in United’s favour as a result of the legendary Scot’s forceful character.
Writing in the Daily Mail, Poll says he is not surprised to see United suffering somewhat without Fergie around to win them favours.
He says Fergie had the knack of inspiring “fear” in match officials, whereas his replacement David Moyes (or any other EPL manager for that matter) simply does not have the same influence.
“Sir Alex Ferguson's influence no longer affects referees when officiating Manchester United but it used to and one can’t help but wondering if that has played a small part in the champion's start to the season,” Poll writes.
“I clearly remember visiting Old Trafford for the first time and was well aware that my life would be made a misery by the home manager if things didn't go well for his team.
“Whenever the result was not as Ferguson expected you would be made aware – in no uncertain terms
“Whether it was not awarding United a penalty, failing to send off an opponent or not allowing enough added time you would get a blast of that infamous 'hairdryer' – and yes he really did come into my dressing room and bemoan the lack of added time after a draw with Everton.
“That never made me deliberately favour United but sub-consciously who knows what affect those tirades had.
“David Moyes does not strike that same 'fear' into officials and nor do any other current PL managers – so if United did gain an advantage, however unintentionally, from the referees’, it’s a level playing field now.”