Last updated : 01 December 2006 By Ed

From The Grauniad

Didier Drogba found himself at the centre of the Premiership's latest elbowing controversy last night when Sir Alex Ferguson criticised the Chelsea striker for an aerial challenge that left Nemanja Vidic fearing he had a fractured jaw.

Vidic missed Manchester United's 3-0 defeat of Everton on Wednesday and an angry Ferguson revealed that the Serbian defender had needed an x-ray to see whether there had been any lasting damage inflicted by Drogba's flailing elbow.

The incident occurred in the first half of Chelsea's 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on Sunday and, having studied the video replays, Ferguson made it clear he was unhappy with the referee Howard Webb's decision not to show the Premiership's leading scorer a red card.

"The concern for us was that the player got only a yellow card for use of the elbow, when it could have caused a serious injury," said Ferguson. "Vidic got an elbow into his jaw and that's a concern. It could have been a serious one."

As a player Ferguson was infamous for the occasionally reckless way he led with his elbows but, as a manager, he has frequently spoken out about the dangers, once predicting that someone could be blinded. Like Jose Mourinho, he was generally impressed with Webb and his anger lies primarily with Drogba, with replays indicating that the striker had looked to see where Vidic was before bringing down his right arm into his opponent's jaw.

Vidic returned to light training yesterday and Ferguson said the former Spartak Moscow player had had a lucky escape. "We thought it was fractured and we sent him for a scan. Fortunately it is not but he is still very, very tender, so we had to leave him out [against Everton]."