What's the story?
Former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg appears to agree with Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's comments on Manchester City's tactical fouls ahead of the highly-anticipated Manchester derby at Old Trafford tonight.
In case you didn't know
Manchester United are all set to play host to their city rivals later tonight in a game that will prove to be decisive in the Premier League title chase as well as the race for a top-four finish.
While City will hope to overtake title chasers Liverpool to the top of the league table, the Red Devils are looking to earn a crucial three points to keep their race to secure Champions League football alive.
Solskjaer had recently stated that Pep Guardiola's men are expected to foul the United players high up the pitch as that is the area that is most overlooked when it comes to challenges. The Norwegian said (via The Guardian), "You don’t get the yellow cards [there], do you? But that’s just because they commit so many players forward and you can clearly see that they’ve got them in that mould of trying to win the ball back, and they do make fouls."
Guardiola has since hit back at the comments accusing the United boss of trying to influence referee, Andre Marriner. "I don’t like it. No. My team is not built to think and create for that, not at all. I know exactly what I said to my players from day one to the last day, so when a player wants to attack, we have to be honest and of course there is contact, there are fouls. But when it happens and you arrive late – that is why there are referees, to make yellow cards or red cards or whatever they decide."
The heart of the matter
Clattenburg has now stated that Solskjaer is right about highlighting the Premier League champions' fouls. Writing for the Daily Mail, he observed, "I have seen Solskjaer’s comments about City using tactical fouls to disrupt play when they lose possession, and he has a point. They break at such speed and are so expansive that they are left exposed when they lose the ball."
The former Premier League referee particularly name-dropped midfielder Fernandinho as the main culprit behind the tactical fouls saying, "City midfielder Fernandinho, in particular, is guilty of these cynical fouls. But then so are all teams in certain situations. Look at United — Nemanja Matic is similar to Fernandinho in that he breaks up play through whatever means he can, that’s his job."
"As a referee you are aware of this but you will ignore the pre-match comments, they have no bearing on how you handle the game."
The Manchester Derby is a must-win game for both teams for different reasons.Published 24 Apr 2019, 19:18 IST