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Sir Alex Ferguson today hit back at Manchester City development executive Patrick Vieira by insisting Manchester United are not leading the title race because they get favourable treatment from referees.

Vieira suggested yesterday Ferguson’s side are reaping the benefit from favourable decisions  at Old Trafford.

The former Arsenal captain’s comments came following United’s controversial 1-0 win at home against Fulham on Monday night when referee Michael Oliver failed to award the visitors a spot-kick in the final minute despite Michael Carrick appearing to trip Danny Murphy.

However, Ferguson dismissed Vieira’s outburst and claimed City have had their fair share of good fortune during the season too, using Mario Balotelli’s stamp on Scott Parker before scoring the winning goal against Tottenham in January as an example.

The United manager said: “Every club gets breaks here and there, you get good ones and bad ones. It evens itself out over the season and that will never change.

“We had a terrible decision earlier this season when Newcastle got a penalty [after Rio Ferdinand had fairly tackled Hatem Ben Arfa] and Tottenham could claim the same when Mario Balotelli wasn’t sent off and ended up scoring the winning goal. You could go through millions of things like that. Maybe smaller clubs feel that [decisions go against them when they play big clubs] but someone said some years ago that we get lots of penalties.

“It is only averaging out at three a year. You can’t say that is a lot when you are attacking teams all the time.”

Talking about the penalty incident in the win against Fulham, Ferguson added: “From the referee’s position, I can see why he didn’t give a penalty when Danny Murphy was brought down.

“The ball moved to the angle as Carrick challenged him. From that position, it wasn’t clear.

“It was a good claim but City could have had a penalty against them at Stoke [for a Gareth Barry challenge on Glenn Whelan].”

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