Sir Alex Ferguson has maintained that the football Association was unjust in punishing him for his criticism of referees, saying he was guilty of nothing more than "fair comment" and reiterating his belief that Manchester United have been the victim of "terrible" decisions.
"You've just got to be careful that you don't have paranoia about it," said a manager who continues to show no sign of remorse for incurring five disciplinary charges from the FA in as many years because of his hostility towards referees.
Ferguson's outburst about Martin Atkinson's handling of United's defeat at Chelsea this month has led to a five-match touchline ban, a record punishment for a manager criticising a referee in the media.
Part of that comes from having a two-match ban hanging over him as a suspended sentence from a previous FA charge, when he described another referee, Alan Wiley, as physically unfit to officiate at the top level in October 2009.
The FA hearing into his latest case noted how Ferguson had not shown any regret for stating that Atkinson should not have been appointed for the Chelsea game because the occasion demanded "a fair referee". Ferguson's legal adviser, Graham Bean, has since described the body as "like a communist state". "If you speak your mind, it's a problem in the game," Ferguson said. "The FA is strong in supporting the referees. I agree with that but there has to be fair comment also. I try to do that."