Although Manchester United can understandably feel hard done by after referee Cuneyt Cakir’s decision to send off Nani in their 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid at Old Trafford last night, they too have seen many controversial decisions go their way in recent times.
A shame that a game of such importance can be decided by a challenge that would’ve left either side content for the player to be shown a yellow card. However, other teams who have been on the wrong end of some decisions against United in recent times will be the first to point out that as unfair as it seems, it's just part and parcel of the game.
Just look back to October, when a top of the table encounter was also decided in controversial circumstances in Man United’s victory over nine-man Chelsea. With the score tied at 2-2, Branislav Ivanovic was first to be shown red for bringing down Ashley Young, adjudged to be halting the latter’s advance to goal. Then, just six minutes later, Fernando Torres was also off after being accused of going down too easily. To put the icing on the cake, Javier Hernandez was in an offside position when scoring the winning goal in a 3-2 victory.
Ivanovic’s red card was considered harsh but was argued that due to the laws of the game he had to be shown a straight red. Fair enough. The irony of the second sending off was that Torres harshly went for diving, yet that same Young had previously got away with a petulant dive against QPR last season which led to a penalty and red card for Shaun Derry in the process. For all the arguments that Ivanovic had to go, then it can also be argued that Nani studded a player into the abdominal area – even if it was unintentional, so he too can have no complaints.
Nothing can be said about Alvaro Arbeloa’s post-tackle rolling around either, as once again that man Young had previously rolled about to gain his team another penalty against Aston Villa just weeks after the QPR incident, even though replays showed there was minimal contact. Liverpool fans will also be the first to mention when Antonio Valencia won United a questionable penalty – leading Glen Johnson to publicly brand him a “cheat”.
It’s worth noting that this was the same game where Jonjo Shelvey had earlier been sent off for a challenge when both himself and Johnny Evans had gone in with two feet. These are just a few in a long list of controversial decisions in recent years. Did last night’s "victim" Nani complain when referee Mark Clattenberg awarded his team a goal against Tottenham Hotspur even though the player had clearly handballed it in the process? No.
Even though Nani’s tackle last night was unintentional and his eyes are clearly focused on the ball, the referee adjudged that it was a dangerous tackle that could’ve injured a player and was given his marching orders. Harsh to say the least, but after so many incidents that have previously gone their way, has Mr. Ferguson a right to feel aggrieved?
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