On Saturday Wayne Rooney elbowed James McCarthy in the side of the head. It was unprovoked and worthy of a red card.
Despite video evidence Rooney has gotten away with it. Ref’s chief Mike Riley said:
Mark took the correct course of action with this incident. In this incident Mark was following play but caught sight of two players coming together and he awarded a free-kick because he believed one player had impeded the other. We should be clear that Mark did nothing wrong in officiating this incident as he acted on what he saw on the pitch.
Clearly Clattenburg didn’t see what happened. You might suggest he did but I choose to think he didn’t. I choose to believe that he was unable to see exactly what Rooney did and it’s only the vagaries of the system, which says a player can’t be punished by video evidence for an incident already dealt with, which has prevented Rooney getting the ban he deserved. I choose to believe that had he seen Rooney’s elbow he would have sent him off. The decision to give a free kick was based on his belief that it was just a coming together.
I try not to buy into referee conspiracies, the widely held belief that Man United get away with more than anyone else, for example. You might think that, but ask United fans and they won’t agree. They’ll say Arsenal get away with more, or Liverpool, or Chelsea. It’s a matter of perspective. And as fans we can only have one.
And while I think the game has some issues if referees really are bent then we’re in big trouble. What has to change is the rule, the loophole, which prevents referees taking a second look at something they may have only caught out of the corner of their eye. In this day and age it’s stupid and prevents justice from being done.
So while Clattenburg is never going to top anyone’s list of ‘officials that are better than Stevie Wonder’ the real issue is the rule which has let Rooney get away with violent conduct.
And take part in three games crucial to United’s season. He’s a lucky boy.