It is hardly surprising that Sir Alex Ferguson’s actions during Saturday’s thrilling victory over Newcastle United and his subsequent reaction to criticsm from beaten boss Alan Pardew has caused a media frenzy. But the truth is that Fergie has hit the target once again with his brilliant response to the ill-judged words of the Magpies’ boss..

When the Football Association confirmed no action will be taken against Ferguson for confronting referee Mike  Dean and his assistants before the start of the second half over the controversial way they allowed Newcastle’s second goal to stand, it was a slap in the face for Pardew.

The Newcastle manager made his feelings clear when he announced that Ferguson’s conduct was worthy of a dismissal, adding that Dean will have been “slightly disappointed” he did not take action at the time.

But Sir Alex deliciously put Pardew in his place when he accused him of hypocrisy,  describing him as a manager of a “wee club in the north-east” and passionately defended his right to confront referee Dean.

It was pure theatre at his Friday press conference at Carrington when The Boss declared: “Alan Pardew has come out and criticised me. He is the worst at haranguing referees. He shoves them and makes a joke of it. How he can criticise me is unbelievable. He forgets the help I gave him, by the way.

“I was demonstrative but I was not out of order. The press have had a field day. The only person they have not spoken to is Barack Obama because he is busy. It is unfortunate but I am the manager of the most famous club in the world. Not Newcastle, a wee club in the north-east.

Keegan's Kingdom tribute available on DVD
Keegan’s Kingdom tribute available on DVD

“I was demonstrative. I am always demonstrative. Everyone knows that. I am an emotional guy. But I was not abusive. I shouted Mike over. We walked towards each other. I was only on [the pitch] three or four yards. That has been overplayed. The problem for me is that the profile of this club is huge.”

For the record, Pardew was given a two-match touchline ban and fined £20,000 after accepting an FA charge of improper conduct for pushing an assistant referee earlier this season. He was also sent off during the 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur on 18 August when he pushed Peter Kirkup after claiming the ball had gone out of play during a Tottenham attack.