So angry is the Scot, that he's told his players not to boot the ball out of play when opponents go down...

Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, has expressed his fury at players who go to ground specifically to halt an opposition attack.

"It's absolutely ridiculous and something has to be done about it," he said in the News of the World.

"Players are getting stick and kicking the ball out, and the fans are whistling because people stop playing. The other players are as guilty as the guy lying down.

"They have no idea what is wrong with the guy lying down. Most of the time there is nothing wrong with him at all.

"The problem is how much the referee can tolerate when the players go down.

"There is no doubt it has been exploited to ridiculous degrees now. I don't know how to stop it."

Still fuming over the controversial incident between Michael Ballack and Patrice Evra that led to Chelsea's second goal in the Community Shield, Ferguson said he'd tried to instruct his men to keep playing whenever an opponent goes down.

"Referees' chief Keith Hackett said three years ago the players were being instructed not to kick the ball out," he continued.

"I spoke to the players here and told them not to kick the ball out, to let the ref decide. For instance, a head injury could happen and we let the referee stop the game. That is the criteria we are working on, but the players wouldn't do it.

"If the players don't put the ball out they get stick off the opposing players and opposing fans, so they kick it out.

"It's so stupid. You could be attacking the last third and you put the ball out and it ends up back with your goalkeeper when they kick the ball back. We have just overdone it, overcooked the whole thing."

Man United kick off their Premier League campaign with a home game against Birmingham City on Sunday.

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