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.)


  • Overall, I thought Clatts had a decent game.

    Just felt he was a tad inconsistent in his foul detection. None more so than his first penalty award. Rafael was clearly fouled by Vardy, but to allow play to continue and then award a penalty for a slight coming together was baffling.

    No complaints about Blacketts dismissal, if he gave a PK, a red card had to follow.

    Finally, where on earth did the 6 minutes added on the end come from? Completely unnecessary.

    Like I said, an overall decent outing, although he’s been much, much better.

    I also agree with your assessment of the game, United where cruising at 1-3. The penalty changed the complextion of the match. However, you would expect United to see the game out. They’ve got a CL winning attack, but a League 2 defence. Woeful defending at times.


  • Can we PLEASE talk about defence, rather than defense???? This is NOT American football. I’m a Man Utd fan and clatts DID give the momentum to Leicester in a HUGE way. Having said that, we did turn ourselves into the keystone cops at times. We’re going to have to get used to the net bulging behind de gea until January because we have let defence become an afterthought (or no thought at all). However, it is what it is and we’ll see the character of these new guys who clearly have quality in spades (midfield and forwards, I mean). Let’s not forget about the goals we actually scored! Let’s also not forget, no, let’s make sure we mention the fact that Leicester played their hearts out and I hope they stay up, just purely for the fact that they picked themselves up a few times and refused to give up. I hope that Vardy stops messing around and concentrates on the skill that he undoubtably has. Well done Leicester, buck up utd!


    • Re: Defence v. defense…I live and work in America, so my everyday language isn’t The Queen’s English. Seeps in sometimes. Sorry.


    • And btw, as far as “forgetting about the goals”, I don’t think anyone’s doing that. But the truth of the matter is the scoreline, and by January, I’m afraid United will be so far off the pace that even their strikers won’t dig them out of it.


  • haven’t seen any highlights of this match yet but it sounds as if clatts had a bit of a wobble. i will probs say more when ive seen some footage of match


  • “But guess what? A successful penalty kick only gives you one goal. Not four.” obviously the writer has never played sports and doesn’t know the devastating effect such a bad mistake can have on the morale of a team.. Especially one as frail as Utd are at the moment. De Laet should never have been on the pitch for all his fouls. Di Maria was being targeted time and again.
    It is not just the penalty decision but consistent bad refereeing that went against Utd and broke their resolve. All this after, in my opinion, they had played their best match this season.


    • If they’re that frail maybe they should try one of the lower leagues.

      And don’t presume to know what I have and haven’t done. It’s obnoxious.

      “But they’re so FRAIL…” Honestly…


  • Much to the woo of utd I am ….clatty made hell of a mess..much more than a penalty kick….the first foxxy goal was a goal blame is the lines man…I think they should put something like goal line decision for such balls…2nd foxxy goal was definitely the most stupid referee decision of all time..clatty should never referee an EPL match for life for such a blunder…no complains for 3rd foxxy goal..except it was aftermath of the second and experience from new lads was not good enough…4th foxxy goal was classic…mata to blame for loosing posession…5th foxxy goal was again push from someone on blacket which should have been punished..the mew lad was mad to fall for the trap again which ended worse than rafaels mistake..


  • 1st Leicester goal was scored from a cross made when the ball seemed to be out of play. 2nd Leicester goal was from a penalty that wasn’t a penalty. 4th Leicester goal was set up by a player who had previously committed at least three yellow card worthy challenges and was still on the pitch, and was scored by a player who could have perhaps picked up three yellow cards himself, but was still on the pitch. 5th Leicester goal was a penalty won the same player who probably shouldn’t have been on the pitch. Does anyone think 9 or 10 man Leicester could have come back from 3 goals down with 30 minutes to play?


  • Just a reminder that you should read my Ground Rules before you comment. Personal attacks on or threats against referee Clattenburg or myself will not be posted. Thanks!


  • So that’s what you do?. If people don’t agree with you you accuse them being emotional or making threats against you and others. I think someone may be modelling themselves after Zoe Quinn….


    • I don’t actually know who that is. American and all…

      To let you know, all comments on my site go through moderation and aren’t automatically posted.

      The nice ones (and believe me these are nice in comparison) get posted. Yes, I may tease you mercilessly for it, but that’s the risk you take!

      The threats and such I refer to don’t actually make it to the site. So…you can imagine…

      I have unfortunately gotten threats against the referees and myself on this site. Clatts’ have actually been pretty mild this go around compared to some I got over the WC. I’ve had to go to the police a couple of times, but I like to at least warn people before things get out of hand. (Also, this is not actually my job, so I’d prefer not to sort through reams of hate if I can avoid it.)

      It’s part of writing a pro-referee blog I’m afraid.


  • Perhaps you can point out what parts of my post were wrong instead of levelling personal insults at me and pretending that people have threatened you or others. My post didn’t mention the referee by name or even refer to him. I didn’t threaten you because I didn’t know who you were until you until you decided to insult me and play the victim card.

    First goal. Header from a cross, replays show the ball appeared to have crossed the line and was out of play. Do you disagree?

    Second Goal. A penalty. Your own article states that Vardy pushed Rafael and then that he went down in the box without much contact to win the penalty. What do you disagree with?

    Fourth goal. De Laet beats Mata for the ball starting a movement that lead to Vardy scoring. De Laet had been shown a yellow card early in the match and then went on to twice to foul Di Maria, once spitefully shoving him off the edge of the pitch on to the hard pitchside surface and then a cynical clipping of his leg as he threatened goal. Probably deserving of three yellow cards but was on the pitch to play the key part in the goal. Vardy himself was guilty of persistent fouling throughout the match, both shoved Rafael off the ball and appeared to dive for the first penalty. It’s not a stretch of the imagination to say that without both the key pass and the goal scorer this goal could not have happened.

    Fifth goal. Penalty. Won by Vardy who was probably lucky to be on the pitch as he could have picked up two or three yellows.


    • There was nothing wrong with your comment (just that I didn’t agree with it).

      I am sorry that you got the “Please read the Ground Rules” comment right after your post. I post that usually when I get a lot of comments I can’t put up.

      If your comment is posted, you’re following the Ground Rules. Sorry for the confusion.


  • I apologise if you were saying others made threats rather than me. Your post made me think you were talking about me.


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  • you don’t know the psychological impact of one bad decision of a referee on players. the game up to 60 minute was football; but the game after was rugby. look the second penalty how the striker push Blancket and take the ball at the point he was ready to head the ball pushed by the striker and the referee was quite as he was for Rafeal.


    • Momentum can shift in a game after a call doesn’t go your way, absolutely. Especially in a loud stadium like that. But you’re right: Man U only played 60 minutes. They got the lead and let up. They were absolutely atrocious in the last 30 minutes and let in FOUR GOALS. There is NO excuse for that. None.

      If a team is so “frail” as one person said that they collapse that utterly when a single call goes against them, they don’t deserve to play at this level.

      You’re also talking to a supporter of the Swiss national team: A team that never stopped fighting or trying in the World Cup even when they were outgunned by France 6-0. And I support Tottenham, who had TWO red cards last year in big games (Manchester City and Chelsea) that turned out to be wrong and overturned but still never just stopped playing.

      So, sorry, but my patience with this kind of hysterical whinging about “psychological impact” and “frailty” over a single penalty call with 30 minutes left and a team still in the lead is pretty short.


  • Whilst I appreciate authors who respond to comments on their articles, I find it interesting that the author failed to address the query related to numerous errors that Mr Clattenburg supposedly made. Surely it would not be diffcult to check footage and indicate whether the ball was out or not for the 1st leceister goal. The 2nd leceister goal was shocking and that goes without saying. Finally simply saying United are soft does not add any value to a discussion related to whether or not the official should have done more to propect Di Maria. I love English football and I have watched it for 25 years but perhaps the reason why players Like Di Maria who has shown his class on numerous occasions this season opt to play in Spain and not England is because in those countries officials go out of their way to give attacking players the opportunity to express themselves. Perhaps England would be able to develop more quality midfielders if the officials did the same instead of letting morons simply kick players like Ronaldo and Di Maria out of the English game


    • I happen to agree with your last point.

      I am a Tottenham supporter, and the last year Gareth Bale was here was frustrating to say the least. We watched him completely unprotected by the referees on numerous occasions (it was pretty obvious Charlie Adam was out to hurt him). Worse, they decided to make “an example” of him and often yellow carded him for simulation even after it was clear he’d been tackled.

      I have no doubt that played into his decision to leave, and it’s always bothered me.


    • BTW, I’m not an author or a journalist. Just a blogger with an opinion, like you. 🙂 I do this for fun, and because I love referees.


  • Pingback: Leicester City (A) – Sept. 21, 2014 (EPL) | Louis Van Gaal @ MUFC

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