Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has put on his finest tin foil hat and claimed that the Red Devils’ rivals have all managed to scare referees away from awarding them penalties.
United felt aggrieved in Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Chelsea when the ball struck Callum Hudson-Odoi on the arm in the penalty area, but despite reviewing the footage on the pitch-side monitor, referee Stuart Attwell declined to award a penalty.
It was one of those handballs that would have been ridiculously harsh – yet definitely a penalty by today’s standards – and Solskjaer claimed after the game that Chelsea and the rest of their rivals had succeeded in turning officials against United.
“Yep, 100% [it should have been a penalty],” he told Sky Sports. “They’re shouting it’s handball for our player, but when you look at it on the video, it’s taken two points away from us.
“It’s not right, is it? It’s all these outside influences, even the VAR talk before the game here on Harry, when they put that on the website, that’s cheeky. It’s influencing referees. You can go back and look at the website. It’s putting pressure on the referees to give penalties against us.
“We’ve seen, there was a manager – was it Frank? [Lampard] – there’s loads of talk about us getting penalties, when there is no doubt whatsoever. Now we should’ve had one, that’s clear to this.”
The post on the Chelsea website to which Solskjaer was referring was a preview of the game which discussed Harry Maguire’s recent penalty-area conduct and brought back memories of the centre-back’s ‘headlock’ on Cesar Azpilicueta.
Maguire was involved in the drama yet again in this one, with Luke Shaw claiming after the match: “The ref even said to H (Harry Maguire), I heard him that ‘if I say it is a pen, then it is going to cause a lot of talk about it after’, so I don’t know what happened there.
“H said that they got told it was a pen. He got told it was a penalty by VAR so I’m not sure what’s gone on.”
However, Maguire is since claimed to have told United officials that Shaw misheard the situation… pretty big thing to mishear, isn’t it?
It was the only real talking point in a game which was largely uninspiring from both sides. The point leaves United second in the Premier League, one ahead of third-placed Leicester City, while Chelsea remain down in fifth.
For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!