Manchester United fan-favourite, Ander Herrera, reflected on what he describes to be one of the toughest days of his career, as he was sent off and Manchester United struggled to a 1-0 draw. Herrera, who has been in world class form for United lately, looked great in the match but was sent off after he slipped into another player and referee Mark Clattenburg decided that was a valid reason to give him a yellow card. Of course, nobody mentions how ridiculous it is, because it’s Manchester United and everyone is pettily desperate to see the Red Devils fail.
Back to Herrera, though, he said he was speaking with Juan Mata and the two Spaniards agreed they had never experienced something as ridiculous on a football pitch. After 37 shots, 11 on target and a ridiculous number of clear-cut chances, United was still unable to put the ball in the back of the net, dominating even after Herrera was sent off the pitch. As aforementioned, Herrera described it as one of the toughest days of his career.
“It was unbelievable. I was speaking with Juan [Mata] and we both agreed we have never experienced something like that on the pitch. We created 20 or 22 chances, we controlled the game for 90 minutes and to not score is unbelievable. We had the luck against us and hopefully, one day, we can get a fair result like a 5-0 or 6-0 win.”
Herrera reaffirmed what everyone was thinking after he got sent off- he slipped into the tackle. However, as much of a fighter as he is, the Spaniard took the decision with grace and accepted his second yellow card. Clearly disappointed with the downturn of events in his stretch of great form, Herrera seemed reluctant to admit he was as horribly wronged as he was.
“I didn’t want to make both of the fouls, I’m not a violent player. First yellow card, I bent my knee and didn’t want to kick the opponent. The second, I slipped.”
Speaking about the dressing room players and collective disappointment around the poor results against Stoke City and now Burnley, Herrera said that he hasn’t yet witnessed a match in which a team was as unlucky as United on Saturday.
“Of course, we want to fight for everything. We have lost four points that we should have won easily but this is football and the Premier League. I don’t know if a team has been unlucky as we have been in this game. The dressing room was completely disappointed because of the way we played. We have to keep our heads up because we’ve done a lot of good things.
“We have to keep going, we cannot cry or complain. We just have to keep playing the way we did today, against Liverpool, Stoke and Fenerbahce. I think we are in the right way but today is one of the toughest days of my career because we deserved to win 6-0 but it was difficult.”
First of all, this sending off should do nothing to hurt Herrera’s reputation, because it was impossible for him to prevent what happened to him. In a world where players now get sent off for slipping, there is literally no point in playing football. Based on the “evidence” Clattenburg had for sending Herrera off, Steven Gerrard may as well have been sent off for slipping and allowing Demba Ba to score. It was probably the most uncalled for red card I’ve seen in the Premier League in a very long time.
Moving that on to the subject of Mark Clattenburg, how is he a referee? He isn’t biased against United, I don’t think, but every time I see him refereeing matches he makes a massive error. First, he denied two clear penalties (the third one was somewhat desperate from Pogba), then he sent Mourinho off for complaining. Normally, the linesman requests for referees to send managers from their touchline off, but Clattenburg actually took matters into his own hands and sent the manager off. First, he makes a mistake and denies a clear penalty, has the nerve to send a manager off for one complaint about it and then sends a player off for falling.
Tom Heaton, Burnley’s goalkeeper, had a fantastic game, booked in the 92nd minute for wasting time. What about the first 91 minutes, in which he wasted plenty of time with nothing? Clattenburg called fouls against both United and Burnley throughout the match for the softest plays ever, but he couldn’t not award a penalty for a clear foul on Matteo Darmian? He sent Herrera off for falling, but couldn’t send off or warn Jon Flanagan for handballing on the edge of the box, with a yellow card, because he walked away?
Mark Clattenburg cost United a potential point with his decision not to send Claudio Bravo off for a cynical foul on Wayne Rooney, and he easily added another two on Saturday. He makes terrible decisions and horrible errors on big occasions, sending seven United players off in recent years, to say the least. He’s a controversial referee but this time it was well past the line of mistake. Worst of all, his mistake cost Herrera, who is now banned. If that ban isn’t rescinded from the FA it will prove that they are a complete joke of an organization that suffers from incredible leniency to preferred players.
That being said, I expect the response from United to be fantastic. There needs to be a strong support as United enters a period of matches in which they need to win a high number of points. United needs to show everyone in the world who is boss because this club is bigger and deserves better than what happened on Saturday with Clattenburg. I also hope Mourinho speaks about it because he showed he has the fiery personality to make a dent in this football world.