The FA have today confirmed that Manchester United has been charged by the FA after our players surrounded referee Craig Pawson after he failed to award a freekick for Virgil Van Dijk’s foul on David de Gea in the lead up to a goal scored by Roberto Firmino.

The Liverpool defender jumped in to our goalkeeper, banging in to his body and arm, leading De Gea to spill the ball. Firmino then scored to make it 2-0.

De Gea charged out angrily to confront Pawson over his error and several of his teammates joined in. The FA’s charge says that United failed to ensure their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion. VAR subsequently reviewed the decision and overruled Pawson and Sky Sports reported that the VAR officials were “very surprised” that Pawson hadn’t awarded the foul in the first place.

While we can all see why the club has been charged, given how our players reacted, it is worth contrasting this moment to an occasion last month when De Gea was again fouled in the box. In our 1-1 draw against Everton, De Gea jumped to punch a cross and Dominic Calvert-Lewin smashed his arm in to the goalkeeper’s face. De Gea didn’t react, presumably believing that VAR would rule the goal out, and was criticised for being too timid. Had he raced after the referee protesting, maybe the VAR officials would have had an easier decision to make. As it was, it appeared as though De Gea didn’t believe it was a foul (although his posts on social media that evening showed he thought otherwise) so none was given and the goal stood.


What is the lesson players can learn here? If the goal should be disallowed and you don’t react, the goal will likely stand. But if you complain about the decision the correct call will be made, but your players will face an FA charge as a result.

Interestingly, the referee at Anfield, Pawson, was the VAR referee for the Everton game. After allowing that goal to stand, did he feel as though he had to to allow the Liverpool one too? Shoddy.

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