Alex Ferguson faces an anxious wait to see whether referee Mike Dean reports his half-time rant at Old Trafford yesterday.
The Manchester United manager was furious Dean over-ruled assistant Jake Collin and awarded Newcastle’s second goal in the 4-3 spectacular, which ended with the Red Devils going seven points clear at the top of the Premier League.
He confronted Dean as he made his way out for the second-half, then rounded on the fourth official Neil Swarbrick and finally Collin.
And if Dean opts to report the matter Ferguson could be in trouble, despite his insistence the referee got it wrong in assessing the impact of Papiss Cisse’s presence next to Jonny Evans, who turned Danny Simpson’s cross into his own net.
“The referee changed the linesman’s mind,” said Ferguson after Collin had flagged for offside against Cisse.
“He said it was an own goal. But if you see it again, and the referee can’t, the guy is in an offside position, then he pulls Evans’ arm.
“If that is not interfering what is?
“I think it was a bad decision.”
As Dean could have sent Ferguson off, it would appear the Scot will escape sanction.
For Newcastle, though, the pain of defeat could be extended by an injury to Vurnon Anita, who was carried off on a stretcher following a late challenge by Antonio Valencia.
“I was a bit upset with that tackle,” Magpies manager Alan Pardew said.
“I have seen it again and I don’t think it was malicious but Valencia has mistimed it badly and unfortunately it might cost us a player.
“I am not sure what is wrong. It is too early to say.
“It is a bang on the ankle. We will have to see whether he will make Arsenal, which would be a loss to us.”
Those talking points do not touch on an amazing game.
Three times Newcastle led, through James Perch, Evans and Cisse, only for Evans, Patrice Evra and Robin van Persie, with his 16th goal of the season, to respond.
But when Sammy Ameobi struck the inside of a post with a shot Pardew thought was going in, he feared the worst.
“When it went back to the goalkeeper I thought ’mmm, it might not be our day’,” said Pardew.
He was right. And it was not Manchester City’s either as Hernandez struck in the dying seconds to ensure United will be top on New Years’ Day no matter what the outcome of matches against West Brom and Wigan.
“That performance tells you about the courage of our team,” said Ferguson.
“We had a lot of bad decisions against us in the first-half.
“That could have demoralised the team. But they didn’t give in. That is the great quality they have.”