“To be honest, I’m outraged by that penalty,” said former Manchester City academy player Nedum Onuoha. “That’s really upset me. I think that’s a dive.”

Sitting next to Onuoha on the BBC couch for Final Score was Martin Keown and he felt just as strongly about the decision to award Marcus Rashford penalty during Manchester United’s 3-2 win over Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

“For me, there’s no way that’s a penalty,” the former Arsenal player said. “It’s a blatant dive from Rashford. I’m looking at that thinking why has VAR missed that? It’s a dive. It’s a blatant dive.”

This is the incident they are referring to.

With Rashford running at speed, Danilo sticks a leg out, gets nothing on the ball, and makes enough contact to knock Rashford over. This is not a controversial decision, let alone an incident you could call a dive, so why the fuss?

With five minutes played on Saturday, Forest fans were singing about Erik ten Hag getting sacked in the morning. It’s likely that people who hate United, like Keown and Onuoha, had been just as giddy when they saw United had gone 2-0 down after a few minutes. To then see United come back to win 3-2 clearly upset them but does that mean those watching the BBC, without access to the game live that afternoon, should have to hear the most biased and factually untrue commentary?

Over on TalkSport, the reaction was just as poor. “He got away with it, in my opinion,” claimed Jamie O’Hara. “I think Rashford, when you look at it and slow it down, I think he dived.”

Gabriel Agbonlahor, who can’t seem to stop himself from making an idiot out of himself when talking about United, joined in. “100% a dive,” he claimed.

In The Daily Mail, Chris Sutton was equally as keen to make an arse out of himself. “Decisions tended to go United’s way in my day and they still do, especially at Old Trafford,” he said. “Just look at their 3-2 win over Nottingham Forest on Saturday. Marcus Rashford dropped down under minimal pressure from Danilo. You might call it clever. I call it cheating. Rashford dived, referee Stuart Attwell fell for it, VAR Robert Jones did not intervene, Bruno Fernandes scored and Forest lost.”

It’s hard to believe all these people are speaking with such passion about what we can all see is a stonewall penalty.  

The foul was obvious to those in the ground at the time, even those without a clear view of the incident, based on the reaction of the Forest players. Danilo half-heartedly put his arms in the air, protesting his innocence, while the rest of the team dropped their heads and made no appeal to the referee. If Rashford has dived, Danilo and his teammates would be losing the plot. They had been 2-0 up, if Bruno Fernandes scored the penalty they would be losing 3-2, but you reckon Rashford dived and they had nothing to say about it? They just accepted the decision that they knew was wrong? Don’t be ridiculous.

It wasn’t the worst refereeing performance from Attwell but he hardly covered himself in glory either. When two Forest players tangled with each other, leaving Rashford to sprint away with the ball just outside the penalty area, the referee blew his whistle for a foul. It added insult to injury that Rashford was then booked for kicking the ball away in frustration over the ludicrous decision.

We’ve seen some players and managers punished for a new rule that has been introduced this season. During the Community Shield a few weeks ago, Mikel Arteta was shown a yellow card for waving an imaginary yellow card when calling for a booking for a foul made by Rodri on Kai Havertz. On the opening weekend of the Premier League season, Bruno Guimaraes was booked for waving an imaginary yellow card in their win over Aston Villa.

When Morgan Gibbs-White did the same in an attempt to get Diogo Dalot booked, when already on a yellow card himself, the referee chose to ignore it. And being honest, I don’t care one way or another about bookings for this sort of incident, but when the media is going crazy over a stonewall penalty being awarded in our favour, you can only imagine what would happen if Fernandes didn’t get booked for doing what Gibbs-White did!

Andre Onana also picked up a yellow card in the game for time wasting when we were 3-2 ahead, despite the fact he couldn’t take the goalkick because there were two balls on the pitch. All the time wasting Matt Turner had been guilty of when his team were trying to protect a lead went unpunished.

The notion that the refs favour us is childish beyond belief. An old myth that bitter rival fans and players used to cling to when United were utterly dominating the league as a reason for why their club and their manager couldn’t compete with us.

United were awarded two penalties at Old Trafford in the league last season. Nottingham Forest, who have gone crying to PGMOL with a complaint today, had twice as many. In total, we were awarded three penalties all season, which is half as many as were given to the likes of Leicester and Brighton. Brentford were given five more, Fulham six and City seven. United are doing a really bad job of pressuring the refs in to giving us decisions when there isn’t a single Premier League side who had fewer penalties than us last season!

But this recent hysteria likely comes from the fact a penalty wasn’t given against Onana in our opening 1-0 win against Wolves. Our goalkeeper clattered in to Sasa Kalajdzic late on in the game but the referee and VAR didn’t give a penalty. While it would have been completely understandable if one had been given, you can also see why it wasn’t, given how often goalkeepers are protected by officials and seemingly get away with challenges that outfield players never would.

For example, when Wolves keeper Jose Sa was guilty of the same offence against Leeds last season, the referee and VAR didn’t give a penalty on that occasion either. Of course, we didn’t have the media and pundits crying about that one for a week, because it wasn’t Manchester United who benefited, but we know Onana isn’t the first keeper to be let off.

In United’s next game, Cristian Romero blocked an on target shot with an outstretched arm. Already this season we have seen penalties given for the same offence, most recently John Egan’s handball against City, but nothing was given to United.

So irrelevant is it when United are robbed by an incorrect decision, Sky Sports didn’t even bother to mention it in the half-time analysis. Had Lisandro Martinez batted away a goalbound shot with his hand they’d still be crying about it now. When you compare the week-long mourning that went on for the Onana penalty, it’s quite frankly ridiculous.

After the game, Bruno Fernandes quite rightly asked whether we would get an apology from referees’ boss Jon Moss, as Wolves had the week before. We obviously didn’t, and Bruno was mocked and derided by journalists for daring to call out the hypocrisy.

So, what is going on?

Martin Samuel, formerly of The Daily Mail and now working for The Times, explained back in 2017 what happens with the way the press report on United.

We’ve got this thing now called the internet. It’s an amazing thing. And so now in newspapers we know exactly what people read, we never used to, but now through the wonder of the internet we know exactly what people read. Unfortunately we discovered that what everyone reads is Manchester United, that’s all they want to read about. You will never go poor if you fill your website full of Manchester United stories.

Even after it’s clearly been proven that Rashford didn’t dive, journalists from The Daily Mail are tweeting out their podcast with “Did Rashford dive?” two days later, then sharing a link which then claims for a fact that Rashford did dive. This attracts attention from the people who are just as bitter about United as said journalists, as well as the fume from United fans challenging the ridiculous lies.

The monetisation of Twitter, or X, has only made this issue worse, with journalists and pundits telling lies, that they know are lies, just so they can talk about United for clicks. Who cares if you’re saying something that is totally false, as long as you get the engagement you crave.

Just ahead of our game against Arsenal, matchday officials are given a reminder of what happens if they give a decision the media deems to be wrong. If a United player is brought down in the area, as Rashford was, will the ref blow for it knowing that their integrity will be publicly questioned by the likes of Chris Sutton and other has-beens who are given a platform in the media?

We’re only three games in to the season and already I am beyond bored with the reporting of the decisions that have gone for and against United. Is this what we have to put up with all season? Give it a rest will you.