The Andy Gray Column: Sam Allardyce 100% right about penalty saga, referees DO always favour Manchester United

By Mancunian Matters staff ambassador Andy Gray was talking exclusively to Mancunian Matters…

Sam Allardyce said Manchester United received preferential treatment over penalty decisions on Wednesday – and I would agree because that’s been the case for as long as I can remember with the big teams.

When I was a player in the 1970s and 1980s, all big clubs got the decisions at home more than anyone else.

Occasionally you’ll find it’s much easier to give a decision against a smaller team and I don’t care what the officials say but that’s the case.

I think Sam had a point. I don’t think either incident with Jordan Spence or Rafael was a penalty but I think that it was easy for Phil Dowd to give United’s one because it was Old Trafford.

But if you haven’t given the one against Rafael then you shouldn’t be giving the one for Spence. He made a mistake and Sam was right – you either give both or you give neither.

Of more concern to Sir Alex Ferguson though will be Wayne Rooney missing another penalty. Robin van Persie will take them from now on – I’m convinced of that.

United have got a very accomplished penalty-kick taker apart from Wayne in the team and the next time they get a penalty and Van Persie’s on the pitch, the ball will be tossed to him and he’ll take it.

That could very well happen at White Hart Lane on Sunday and Sir Alex will not want to take any chances in such a big game.

When you look at some games they get you excited before they’ve even started because you think it might be a really open, entertaining game. This is certainly one of them.

Both of these teams like to attack and they’re both better when they do that. But both are a little vulnerable at the back.

This is a game that could have plenty of goals in it and United could drop points. I could see this being a high-scoring draw like a 2-2. There will be plenty of chances.

One player certain to start for United is Michael Carrick. He’s having his best ever spell in a United shirt this season. He’s been fabulous so far.

Carrick is a very good player, who’s even better when he’s given time to control the ball, pick up his head and play passes.

I thought against Liverpool in the second half he was less involved because Liverpool picked up the tempo and put him under pressure.

He made some mistakes and he hurried some passes. He wasn’t as good. But if you give him time to have a look around then he has a fabulous range of passing.

It depends what kind of team Roy Hodgson wants but he is certainly in the frame to play for England against Brazil next month.

Roy has his captain Steven Gerrard and Jack Wilshere who is far too big a talent not to have in your team.

But If Michael is still playing well when it comes to the friendly then Roy will certainly have him in his plans.

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