There were a few moments where it was touch and go for United after the linesman held up his flag with the ball in the back of the Birmingham net.
Mark Clattenburg correctly let the goal stand though, with the ball clearly coming off Scott Dann, not Wayne Rooney, who the linesman was flagging for.
However, replays have shown since that even if the ball had gone in off Rooney, he wasn’t standing in an offside position when Evra played in the ball anyway.
Clattenburg has spoken out after the match though, adding fuel to the fire that refs don’t know what they’re on about.
“I saw that a player from the home side had scored an own goal, but my assistant saw Rooney in an offside position and correctly put the flag up,” said Clattenburg. “I went across to talk to him and he told me why he had flagged, but because Rooney did not score and it was an own goal, it must stand. If Rooney had scored then he would have been given offside. As the law stands, for a player to be offside he must be either playing the ball or interfering with play. In this case the defender tried to clear it and scored an own goal. Rooney was two or three yards away from him.”
Despite watching the replay, Clattenburg still can’t identify the fact Rooney wasn’t in an offside position. At this stage, whether he was or he wasn’t, whether he scored or he didn’t, would bother me very little because the point is in the bag. But we are right to worry about the state of refereeing in this country if even video replay can’t aid officials to make the right call.
He also defended his decision to send off Fletcher, which has been widely regarded as the wrong decision.
“There were two yellow cards for Fletcher,” said Clattenburg. “In the first half he was bollocked for dissent, I warned him for dissent. He was cautioned before half-time for a foul, then he cynically tripped the Birmingham player.”
There was nothing “cynical” about Fletcher’s second yellow card. His leg was outstretched in a bid to win the ball but the player was too fast for him. The speed at which Clattenburg produced a second yellow, then red, was all too telling of his desire to want to send Fletcher off.
Fletcher had been having a go at the referee all game, and if players week in week out got punished for this, then you would have to concede that Fletch deserved it too. But how many players get booked for dissent? Every single week you see players surrounding the ref, shouting at him, swearing at him, but when do they ever get booked? As I’ve repeatedly said on this blog, the “Respect the Ref” campaign is entirely pointless until the referee’s hand out yellow, and if needed, red cards, for dissent. Never happens though.
Clattenburg has previous though. He’s the prick who allowed Kevin Davies to kick lumps out of Patrice Evra a couple of seasons ago. If what Fletch did at the weekend was worthy of two yellow cards, Davies should have been awarded six or seven that day! He is also the referee who bent over for Steven Gerrard. He pulled out a yellow card to book Hibbert in the Merseyside derby, before Gerrard ran over, shouted in his face, and Clattenburg swapped his yellow card for a red.
Rent-a-quote, Graham Poll, has defended Clattenburg’s decision, but confirmed the massive failings of referee’s today.
“Fletcher has a problem in that his greatest strength could become a weakness unless United’s fortunes change,” said Poll. “He is so determined to drive the champions to victory that he becomes frustrated when things do not go his way and the easiest person to take that frustration out on has become the referee. That makes referees – human beings don’t forget – become irritated, which can lead to them going for a card rather quicker than usual.”
Sorry, with championships and trophies at stake, we can’t afford for petty referees to “become irritated” and wrongly send players off. I don’t give a shit if they’re human. They are paid a lot of money to do a job which requires them to make the right decision, not to carry out personal vendettas against players who get on their nerves.
“Reputations are easily gained and hard to lose and Fletcher needs to be careful of his interaction with officials, maybe taking a leaf from Tim Cahill’s book,” Poll continued. “Everton’s Australian is always pleasant to referees, willing to share a joke and accepting decisions with good grace. Maybe that’s why he only picks up a card every 11 fouls!”
So, who cares about making the right decision? Just kiss the referee’s arse, like Cahill, and you won’t pick up the yellow and red cards you deserve.
The RoM 2018-19 Season Preview is available for just £6. It includes an EXCLUSIVE interview with Juan Mata, a Q&A with the country's top journalists, articles by brilliant United writers, and so much more. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.