Manchester City's football development executive Patrick Vieira fears the club are being victimised by authorities too eager to stamp out of the physicality of English football.
The former Arsenal captain and Manchester City midfielder has questioned why Vincent Kompany and Mario Balotelli have incurred the wrath of the Football Association and subsequent four game bans for serious foul play and violent conduct respectively in January when others, such as Chelsea's Frank Lampard and Stoke City's Peter Crouch have gone unpunished.
Manchester City's aforementioned captain was adjudged to have made a two footed tackle on Manchester United winger during the FA Cup third round tie at the Etihad Stadium, while Vincent Kompany's teammate, Balotelli, was retrospectively banned for stamping on Scott Parker during the Premier League game against Tottenham.
Vieira believes Manchester City have been singled out for unfair scrutiny given similar incidents, like Lampard's crass challenge on Wolverhampton Wanderers' Adam Hammill, and Crouch's alleged eye gouge of West Bromwich Albion's Jonas Olsson.
"Frank Lampard's tackle looked dangerous compared to Vincent's," The former Manchester City midfielder told The Times. "Crouch, when he put his finger in the eye of another player, looked bad as well.
"It felt like that anything that City will do will be amplified and we get punished compared to the other teams and the other players.
"I don't want to think about it because I don't want to say that everyone is against City or anything like that. But when you look at the last few decisions, you are asking yourself if something is wrong here."
Vieira believes the clamp down in some of the more overtly physical tackles in the Premier League is indicative of the direction English football is sliding towards.
Famed for his robust tackles and overtly physical style during his Arsenal pomp, the Manchester City football development executive fears the normally permissive nature of referring and subsequently exuberant style of English football is being stamped out.
"Now it looks like you cannot tackle any more," he said. "The refereeing body has to be really careful not to kill the passion of the game.
"If these changes to the rules mean that there is more of a European pace or style to the Premier League, then I think England fans could get bored and would not come to see the game."