I Wasn't Ranting and Raving. I Was Just Showing the Utd Players My ENTHUSIASM; THAT EXPLAINS IT! United Boss Is 71 Tomorrow but the Passion Still Burns 'REAL' REASON HE GAVE REF HELL SIR ALEX ON

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Byline: Steve Bates REPORTS

SIR ALEX FERGUSON claims he blew his top at referee Mike Dean because he thought it was about time he showed "enthusiasm" to his Manchester United players.

The Old Trafford boss has been condemned for directing his famous hairdryer at Dean, linesman Jack Collin and fourth official Neil Swarbrick during the explosive 4-3 win against Newcastle on Boxing Day.

Ferguson was incensed that Dean had not cancelled out an own goal by Jonny Evans when Papiss Cisse was standing offside. Dean correctly over-ruled Collin's flag because the Toon striker was not interfering with play.

Ferguson - 71 tomorrow - tore into the officials at the start of the second half in a clear challenge to the FA's Respect campaign.

Incredibly, the experienced Dean did not view Ferguson's conduct as crossing the line of what is acceptable and added to the furore by failing to include the incident in his match report, leaving the FA powerless to bring charges.

Decisions In his defence, Ferguson is now admitting: "I think I got passionate the other night because I thought that the offside decision should have stood.

"I got animated about that because we also got a couple of bad decisions against us at Swansea.

"I just thought it was time I showed my enthusiasm to the team. Over the last few years it's not been my style to be on the touchline a lot. I have [assistant manager] Mike Phelan for that.

"It's his role to make sure the messages are going out from me to the players and he does it very well.

"But the other night was different. Towards the end of a match I sometimes do that."

Toon boss Alan Pardew later enraged Ferguson by saying he should have been punished by the FA.

It provoked an astonishing outburst from the United manager, who branded Newcastle a "wee club in the north east".

The controversy has overshadowed another pulsating Premier League clash, with Manchester United. …