Mark Clattenburg and Manchester United v. Leicester
There is no doubt that a single call or a single moment can often change the momentum of the game.
But let’s be clear when talking about Manchester United’s 5-3 shock defeat to Leicester:
That is not what happened here.
To be very clear, United came out of halftime with a 2-1 lead.
At 56, Manchester United scored again. They were ahead at 3-1, and were rampaging.
And then it all went to Hades in a hand basket.
Yes, Rafael was pushed off the ball by Jamie Vardy and Clattenburg didn’t call it. No, there wasn’t much contact from Rafael on Vardy, who tumbled dramatically, and Clattenburg fell for it. (Though to be fair, Rafael was very naive and his body was shielding Vardy from Clattenburg’s view; dumb).
Should it have been a penalty? Probably not?
But guess what? A successful penalty kick only gives you one goal. Not four.
Certainly not four in 21 minutes.
Esteban Cambiasso ripped Manchester United’s defense to ribbons a minute and 43 seconds later to tie the match up, and then … Manchester United just stopped playing. That’s the best I can describe it.
Leicester, on the other hand, played like lions.
The goal by Vardy at 78 minutes was a thing of beauty, and made Manchester United look like schoolboys. It was beautiful and you can’t blame that on the referee. (And before anyone starts, Vardy’s push on Rafael would not have been a sending off in any real world, so Vardy would have still been on the pitch to scythe through United’s defense.)
Then at 82, this happened:
That’s Tyler Blackett, well beaten by the pesky Vardy and the last man, lunging desperately at him to stop him scoring. Penalty? Yes. Denial of goalscoring opportunity? Yes.
There’s nothing to fault from Clattenburg there. And it wouldn’t have mattered, because Manchester United had already lost.
So, yes, he made a mistake with the Rafael/Vardy thing, but it was a reasonable one. I also think he was much more inconsistent than we normally see from Clatts.
But while I understand the urge to blame the referee for a mistake and come up with fantasies about how the momentum changed, Manchester United fans have to face the fact that their 250+ million pound squad can’t play defense.
And if their response to being on the wrong end of a questionable call is to give up and ship four goals to their opponents, then these delicate little flowers are playing in the wrong league.
What do you think? Tell us below. (This would be a good time to point you to our Ground Rules. Threats or personal attacks on Clattenburg won’t be posted.)