Forlorn hope for Fletcher
Man Utd pushing boat out in red card appeal but Alex Ferguson not confident.
Last Modified: 08 May 2009 15:39 GMT

'Handled it well': Fletcher took his red card philosophically [EPA]
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson says he does not believe Darren Fletcher will be cleared to play in the European Champions League final after the midfielder was mistakenly given a red card in the semi-final against Arsenal.

United have written a "compassionate" letter to Fifa after the Scotland player was sent off for bringing down Cesc Fabregas in the box – although replays showed he got a foot on the ball.

Ferguson said he had thought it was a penalty at the time and laid no blame with the referee, but wanted to do all he could to enable the player to play in his first Champions League final despite the regulations ruling out an overturn of the ban.

'Right at the time'

"We understand the system and honestly believe the referee made the right decision at the time," said Ferguson.

"From his angle and from where I was, I thought it was a penalty myself.

"But we're not optimistic at all. We have to do it for Darren and in fairness to Darren. But, sometimes, in these situations when everything is addressed, you never know.

"He's quite a placid lad, he's not an emotional boy, he accepts it although it's disappointing for him, obviously.

"He takes great credit for the way he handled it all."

Rules are rules

The European governing body said on Friday that there was little leeway in the case.

Its disciplinary body will discuss the matter on Monday, when it is likely they will confirm that the only grounds for appeal are in a case of mistaken identity, which was not an issue with Fletcher.

"We understand that United have to do everything they can possible and we are sympathetic to their concerns but the rules are very clear; his identity was not mistaken," a Uefa spokesman said.

"They have the right to protest and they may base their argument on sporting grounds. But it is unlikely the decision will be overturned based on the rules."

Holders United will play Barcelona in the final in Rome on May 27, when the Spaniards will have two players suspended – Daniel Alves and Eric Abidal, who was sent off in Wednesday's 1-1 draw at Chelsea that put them through on the away goals rule.

Brown out

United will be without England defender Wes Brown for the rest of the season due to a foot problem.

Brown has not played since January.

"He has had a little setback during the week and it's knocked him back," Ferguson said.

"The fact the season is coming towards the end makes it difficult for him but with Gary (Neville) back we're not bad."

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