I am not a Manchester United hater and I am definitely not a Wayne Rooney hater. I am not a person who likes to see players getting sent off or banned from playing. I am not a lily-livered pink lefty who wants to take all physicality out of the game.
Despite all the above, I am absolutely gob-smacked that Wayne Rooney has escaped without punishment for the elbow he quite clearly deliberately thrust into the face of Wigan’s James McCarthy on Saturday. It was a petulant act and one that was designed to cause injury to a fellow professional.
TV replays showed that referee Mark Clattenburg was watching the ball and didn’t see the incident, yet he gave a free kick against Rooney without showing a card. He has now, apparently had a chance to review what happened and come to the incomprehensible decision that he feels he took the appropriate action at the time.
That decision from Clattenburg means that the FA cannot now take action against Rooney for what he did.
Speaking for everyone who has ever played the game or takes any interest in it, Wigan manager Roberto Martinez said after the game which United won 4-0,
“I saw the incident clearly and the referee did as well because he gave the free-kick. Once you give a free-kick it is quite clear that it is a red card. When you look at the replay, it is quite clear he catches James McCarthy in the face with his elbow. It is a big call in the game. It is unfortunate because the referee saw it but he didn’t feel it was a red card. If one of my players had done that, I would think he was very lucky to stay on the pitch.”
Manchester United’s reaction was as predictable as it was disappointing. Sir Alex said,
“There’s nothing in it.”
Whilst I have the utmost respect for Sir Alex as a manager, he is totally wrong about that.
Assistant manager Mike Phelan made a speech that could hardly have been more hypocritical coming from a close colleague of Fergie’s.
“We can’t dispute the referee’s decision. He’s kept the game flowing and we’re happy with that. There should not be a witch-hunt. The referee was consistent with all his decisions. We should lie low a little bit and let the powers that be take control of the game.”
I hope those words apply to Fergie now, and we will no longer hear him questioning any referee decisions as United are obviously now happy to let the powers that be control the game!!
Many, many people have suggested that referees and the authorities have a bias towards Manchester United, and I have reacted to that with the contempt I thought the suggestion deserved. However, a ruling such as this does make me question my faith in the system.
If this had been a Wigan player does anyone seriously think they would have escaped punishment? I know what I think.