BOOT FORCE; ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE SPECIAL ..Fergie Raging as Van Persie Is Thumped - and United Gaffer Might Rue Dropped Points Too

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THIS surely wasn't what Sir Alex Ferguson had in mind when he set his heart on rocking around the Christmas tree.

Far from a knees-up under baubles and tinsel, Manchester United's lead at the top was trimmed to four points in a rumble on the Mumbles.

A first draw of the Premier League campaign would not have featured on Fergie's wishlist - nor would an incident the 70-year-old claimed could have culminated in top scorer Robin van Persie being killed.

The United boss was desperate to hang his stocking with a six-point cushion over the noisy neighbours - but it was the Scot raising the decibel level after the late flashpoint involving his chief talisman.

The Dutchman had been fouled on the edge of the area by Nathan Dyer before going to ground.


And he was still on the deck when Swansea defender Ashley Williams lashed a ball - after the whistle had gone - that clattered into the back of his head from point-blank range.

Suitably outraged, the 29-year-old was on his feet to remonstrate with the Welsh international, only for a cynical trip by Chico Flores to send him stumbling into a confrontation.

Eyeball to eyeball like a pair of rutting stags, both van Persie and Williams saw the inside of Michael Oliver's book as at least a dozen other players rushed in to offer opinions.

Ferguson was quick to call on the FA to dish out a lengthy ban for the "disgraceful act" by Williams - but the Swans centre-back wasn't the only man to find himself on the end of fierce words from the Reds boss.

Even Nemanja Vidic's first top-flight start since September didn't seem to simmer the irate Glaswegian.

Fergie said: "The referee had one of those days where we didn't get anything out of him.

"It was a shocking performance. I know he is a young referee but I was disappointed with that performance.

"We absolutely battered them.

It was a great performance in the second half. It is unbelievable we didn't win the match.

"My only criticism is the final ball at times let us down. No criticism of the performance, it was very good."

When football did break out, the league leaders were left to curse a mixture of profligacy in front of goal and Michel Vorm's reflexes. …