Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that he had his doubts over the appointment of Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir prior to Tuesday’s Champions League defeat to Real Madrid.
Cakir controversially sent United winger Nani off for a high challenge on Alvaro Arbeloa despite the Portuguese winger’s eyes being fixated on the ball and unaware of Arbeloa’s presence as he tried to control a high ball.
Nani is the seventh player from English teams that Cakir has sent off in European games, never sending one off against them. Most of these red cards Cakir has issued have also been in high-profile fixtures – with Steven Gerrard, John Terry and Mario Balotelli all suffering similar outcomes.
As well as this, United had never won a game with the Turkish official in charge. Ferguson, as cited in the Telegraph, admitted that he was apprehensive over the appointment before kick-off.
"I was concerned. I said that to my staff," he said.
"I had a big worry about it but it is gone now. There is nothing we can do about it.”
It is not the first time that United have bowed out of the competition after controversial decisions in the past from referees have left them with an uphill task.
Paul Scholes saw a disallowed goal against Porto in 2004 cost them while Rafael’s red card against Bayern Munich in 2010 also condemned the Red Devils to an early exit.
"It's hard to keep your faith when you see what's happened in the last few years," Ferguson added.
“It's the third time we've been knocked out by a referee's decision and it's not easy to take."
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