• Premier League

Bosses at odds with Fergie over Williams-Van Persie incident

ESPN staff
December 24, 2012

Roberto Martinez has spoken out in defence of Ashley Williams, insisting the Swansea defender is "not the type of footballer" who would intentionally strike a ball at an opponent's head following Sunday's incident involving Robin van Persie.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson reacted angrily when Williams fired the ball at his striker from close range - apparently to make a clearance although the whistle had already gone for a foul in United's favour - during Sunday's 1-1 draw at the Liberty Stadium.

Ferguson asserted that Van Persie "could have been killed" and that the FA should heavily sanction Willams, who maintains his innocence and said he has tried to apologise.

Wigan Athletic manager Martinez signed Williams during his time in charge of Swansea, and insists the captain of the Welsh club would not have done such a thing on purpose.

"You see the incident and it is a very, very dangerous situation,'' Martinez said. "If you see one of your players with a bang on the back of the head it is really dangerous and it can have bad consequences. You can understand that.

"I signed Ashley Williams for Swansea and I know his character inside out. I can guarantee you without even looking at the incident that he is not a nasty footballer. He is a winner and fully committed, a leader and a captain, and I don't for one second doubt that he did not do that on purpose.

"It is an action of the game. He can show frustration - it is an emotional game and it is very unfortunate that it hits Van Persie in a part of the body where he could have been hurt heavily, and you don't want to see that. But from my point of view, I know Ashley Williams really well - when you sign a player you find out about a player and I can guarantee you he is not the type of footballer who would do that on purpose."

Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp questioned Ferguson's comments and said he has seen many more serious incidents happen during matches.

"I don't see how he was going to be killed," he said. "He kicked the ball at him. I have seen worse things on a football pitch."

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew understood Ferguson's reaction but said that with hindsight the United manager might not be so angry.

Pardew said: "He genuinely felt that, I should think, at the time. You do. If one of your players gets hurt or you think he was in danger, you are going to protect him.

"I think the one with Van Persie was perhaps not as bad as Alex at first imagined. Sometimes from the sideline, it looks a lot worse at the time. I'm not sure whether there will be action taken for that."

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