It could have been another Treble. After knocking out Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, a victory against Portsmouth would have seen us needing to beat West Brom in the semi-finals and Cardiff in the final to be awarded the FA Cup.
But a referee, who apparently deserves our respect, denied us a stonewall penalty. Against the same team, a different referee ignored an even more blatant shout yesterday. So, are Pompey paying off the refs or what?
March 8th 2008
BBC: United were understandably furious after six minutes when Cristiano Ronaldo was clearly bundled over by Distin as he raced into the area, but referee Martin Atkinson ignored the appeals, to the clear disgust of Ferguson.
The Guardian: To say Portsmouth rode their luck would be understating the case by the length of the Manchester Ship Canal. United were denied a clear penalty in the first half, saw two certain goals blocked by astonishing interventions from defenders on the line, not to mention the Patrice Evra shot that David James touched on to a post, and had enough close-range opportunities to win a dozen cup ties.
The Independent: A beautiful ball inside Hermann Hreidarsson by Wayne Rooney invited Cristiano Ronaldo to drift inside the Icelander but he was then charged off the ball by Sylvain Distin. It looked like a penalty but referee Martin Atkinson was unmoved.
“I didn’t think it (the challenge by Distin on Ronaldo] was a penalty,” said Harry Redknapp after the match. “I think Ronaldo pushed (the ball] too far and I didn’t see anything wrong with the challenge.”
“I don’t think we made a bad tackle during the game,” he added.
August 10th 2008
The Telegraph: Tevez was controversially denied what should have been awarded as a definite penalty by referee Peter Walton who had a clear view of the incident. Tussling with left-back Hermann Hreidarsson, Tevez was unfairly hauled down in what replicated a rugby challenge but his appeal was promptly rejected.
Sky Sports: Man-of-the-match Carlos Tevez forced a fine full-stretch save by James with 20 minutes left before being denied a clear penalty after tangling with Herman Hreidarsson just inside the Pompey box.
The Independent: He was denied a penalty by the referee Peter Walton in the 75th minute when Herman Hreidarsson appeared to grab the striker’s leg as he fell in the penalty area.
Tevez has since been accused of stamping on him. Tevez has since been criticised for his reaction. Had the player who rugby tackled him rightly been sent off, then there would have been no reason for frustration or any need for a reaction.
Imagine Rio Ferdinand had grabbed a player by the leg with both arms in the area. This country would be claiming he wasn’t fit to captain England! And if a penalty wasn’t awarded, all the ABUs would come crawling out of the woodwork saying United have the refs in our back pocket.
Football365 went with the headline, “Fact: If you play for Manchester United, it’s legal to push opponents in the face”, which I responded to.
The moment United get a favourable decision (although to be honest, I don’t recall ever seeing one of our lads grab an opponent by the leg and drag them to the floor in the box!) we’ll again hear how the FA always do United a favour and the rugby tackle on Tevez will long be forgotten.
That’s life I suppose and you only get to be as hated as we are when you’re as successful as we are. If winning league title after league title, throwing in a few other European and domestic Cups here or there, comes with the price of having the whole country against us, then I’ll take it!
Essentially though, it’s just a couple of bad decissions from the referee, and I am fully aware we get our fair share of them. It just irks me that the times we are denied are glossed over, whereas when we do get them in our favour, the media can’t stop talking about it.
So, here’s to a new season, being awarded dodgy penalties and hearing about it for weeks and weeks!