Last updated : 16 January 2006 By Ed

Sir Alex Ferguson will strenuously deny threatening the referee Steve Bennett should the Football Association launch an inquiry into claims of an angry confrontation culminating in Wayne Rooney damaging a dressing-room door.

Witnesses in the tunnel area reported that Rooney had punched and kicked the door and that he and Ferguson verbally abused Bennett. Ferguson was alleged to have called him a disgrace and a cheat before telling him he would need a police escort to get out of the stadium. Rooney, who had already been booked for dissent, was said to have described the official as a shambles. Both manager and player allegedly peppered their onslaught with the strongest expletives available.

Ferguson has admitted confronting Bennett but insisted "any talk of threats was nonsense". The United manager admitted being angry but said his criticisms had not strayed beyond some of Bennett's decisions.