The five-match touchline ban imposed by the Football Association on Sir Alex Ferguson was rightly highlighted as farcical on Saturday.
Television showed Ferguson in regular contact with his assistant manager via an amusingly old-fashioned white phone. All instructions could be conveyed to his team and he could decide on all substitutions.
As the ban is purely as described, a touchline one, Ferguson was also able to give his pre-match talk to his players and even issue last-minute instructions before the team went on to the pitch.
Is that you, Mike? Sir Alex Ferguson issues instructions during Manchester United's clash with Bolton
Then at half-time the Manchester United manager was permitted to go into the dressing room and motivate his players in his own unique fashion, teacups and all.
More from Graham Poll. Graham Poll's official line: Player pressure led to penalty error20/03/11 Graham Poll: FA come down hard on Fergie over rants. and it's about time17/03/11 Graham Poll: Judgement day approaches for Wenger and Ferguson as they face up to cost of blowing a fuse14/03/11 Graham Poll: Referees must be protected from half-time interference13/03/11 Graham Poll: Busacca got it wrong - Van Persie's red card was far too harsh09/03/11 Graham Poll: Clattenburg did himself no favours in bid to return to shadows07/03/11 Graham Poll: Carragher was lucky to avoid a straight red 06/03/11 Graham Poll: FA should give Fergie leeway for reacting in heat of moment02/03/11 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE As they were struggling to break down an excellent Bolton team I am sure that Ferguson would have had plenty to say and work on correcting what he saw as deficiencies.
Recognised as one of the best motivators of players, his absence from that half-time briefing would surely have had an impact on him - possibly enough to really see the FA sanction as a punishment sufficient to cause a change in behaviour.
The way the ban is administered here I struggle to see where the punishment is. UEFA agree with me and impose a far more effective punishment. The coach is barred from the dressing room area from the time that the team sheets have to be submitted, 75 minutes before the kick-off. He is then allowed no contact with the team, or technical area, until after the final whistle. This is monitored by the UEFA match delegate.
Of course there are times when managers appear to have tried to get round this; most famously when Jose Mourhino, during his time at Chelsea, was allegedly smuggled into the changing rooms in a laundry skip!
While I question the accuracy of the story it does show the effectiveness of this type of ban which is why circumvention is attempted.
Back at Old Trafford, as soon as Jonny Evans was rightly dismissed for a poor challenge with excessive force in the 76th minute, Ferguson could be seen instructing his management team on how to organise the 10 men for the final 14 minutes.
Pure delight: Sir Alex celebrates United's dramatic win
I remember Sam Allardyce revealing that he had even found his enforced absence from the technical area beneficial and started to watch the first half of all games from the directors' box in the main stand.
A change to the regulation now would be in time for a change for the start of next season and surely the FA must see the need for change if they really do want their punishments to be effective.
GOOD WEEK FOR. BAD WEEK FOR.Roberto Martinez Howard Webb
The Wigan manager enjoyed a much-needed win over Birmingham. This was aided by an inexplicable decision by referee Lee Probert in failing to award the midlands side a penalty for a clear foulby Alcaraz on Curtis Davies not long before Wigan's winning goal.
The top referee awarded Blackpool a bizarre penalty at EwoodPark. Even the manager who benefitted from the decision was baffled as Gary Taylor-Fletcher went to ground after getting his shot away. Webb isa superb referee who made a poor decision; further evidence that referees are human and even the best make mistakes.
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Explore more:People: Alex Ferguson, Sam Allardyce, Roberto Martinez Places: Birmingham Organisations: Football Association