Mark Clattenburg’s Tough Day at the Office

Mark Clattenburg must keep a fifth of scotch in the boot of his car for just such a day.

Not that I think Clattenburg did anything wrong in Manchester United v. Liverpool. He did the very best he could in a game that was just absolute madness. He got a few calls wrong, missed a few he could have given, but the overwhelming majority of his calls were right.

Mostly, he did what he had to do to keep control over a match that the players seemed hell bent on setting on fire.

Graham Poll has a comprehensive look at Clattenburg’s performance, so I won’t do a a blow by blow here. I’ll just give you a few of my thoughts (no way I can cover everything, so I’m not even going to pretend to try).

Yellow Card for handball (minute 32): This was absolutely correct, but Rafael’s handling of the ball looked pretty deliberate to me, or at least pretty freaking stupid. This could easily have been a sending off, but Clatts chose restraint.

Elbow to Fellaini’s face (minute 34): This looked like a sending off offense. Steven Gerrard was looking right at Fellaini and moved his arm right up to hit Fellaini in the face. Fellaini was covered in blood; it was pretty awful. Mark chose a lecture to Gerrard, a yellow card and a free kick, but I don’t know…

Second Penalty (minute 45): Joe Allen got to the ball first and Phil Jones pushed him down. I don’t know why he was complaining about the penalty call; it’s as clear as you like. Allen wasn’t facing goal so no red card. Easy call.

Rooney screaming for a penalty (minute 53): Uh, no. At first, I even thought Rooney dived (though there was contact). It was probably a foul, but the ball was already way past him so no penalty. Good call on Mark’s part.

Vidic sending off and Liverpool penalty (minute 76): Unfortunately, this was a dive from Daniel Sturridge.

But at first blush, and from behind – which was Clattenburg’s angle – Vidic appeared to have mistimed the challenge and it seemed like a no brainer. It was only a yellow card and a penalty, though, which would seem a measured response; it only seemed like it wasn’t because Vidic already had a yellow.

Looking at it from the opposite angle, though, Vidic didn’t even touch Sturridge, who timed his own dive perfectly. Can’t really blame Clattenburg for this one, though. At least Gerrard missed the third penalty…

Another Sturridge dive, or… (minute 80): Manchester United said he dived. Liverpool said he was clipped on the heels and it should have been a penalty. Mark did nothing, which at this point was probably wise.

All in all, it was a very tough match to referee, and I think Clatts handled it admirably. I honestly don’t think another Premiership ref could have done better.

On a non-refereeing note: My favorite random moment of this game was when the adorable Juan Mata came off and accepted a bottle of Gatorade. He sat down and proceeded to open the bottle with his teeth. I do that! I bet his mom will yell at him, too…

PS…One of my friends suggested I rename this post “Clatts of the Titans.” …

I spared you of that. You’re welcome.

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