May 20, 2024


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Summary: Manchester United, Forest and a weekend of football farce

Summary: Manchester United, Forest and a weekend of football farce

Welcome to The Briefing, where every Monday during this season, The athlete He will discuss three of the biggest questions from football this weekend.

This has been an emotional weekend Because of the crazy nature of English football – with scathing allegations of referee bias, a complete meltdown within 20 minutes when the score is 3-0, and complaints about match congestion. once again. It ended up with two relevant trends on Twitter: “embarrassing” and “bloody VAR”.

Here, we will ask how embarrassed Manchester United felt after their FA Cup semi-final win over Coventry on penalties – and the same question for Nottingham Forest after their club's public reaction to the refereeing decisions. And finally, is playing football on Saturday so bad, Pep?

At Wembley, another strange day in Manchester United's recent history began with billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who has once run the London Marathon, Clark Kent-style, donning his suit for the task at hand of trying to appear calm and in control while watching United do their best. Hilariously bad things.

Ratcliffe, Erik ten Hag, even Jason Wilcox on his first day: they've all mastered the 50-yard stare while trying to give the impression they know what they're doing, all while their team concedes three goals down in an FA Cup semi. -Final without logical reason.

VAR may have been in vogue, but in truth, Coventry's remarkable story of bad luck was not the fault of the referees. The penalty decision for handball against Aaron Wan-Bissaka, which sent the game into extra time, was questionable to say the least (especially when you consider that the more obvious “unnatural hand positions” by Jack Grealish and Ashley Young were not penalized at the end of this the week ).

If Haji-Wright's big toe or left elbow is offside, he is offside.

VAR, committed to regulations and not one to embrace football banter.

United were chaotic going 3-0 up, conceding from the 71st minute onwards. On the plus side, they won the game and did not concede at least 20 shots on their own goal, not even after extra time. This has not happened since February.

At least they regained some dignity by not initially celebrating their victory on penalties. There was no build-up, no sprint to victory by penalty taker Rasmus Hoglund, instead they politely shook hands with the Coventry players.

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Oh, except for Anthony, who ran past the nervous Coventry players and put his hands over his ears. This is the same Anthony who came on as a substitute in United's 3-0 win and did not contribute much to his team's victory.

But still: “Yes, take that, a small Championship club whose wage bill is 2% of the size of our club, it's bad enough to be you!”

Andre Onana was booked for time-wasting against Coventry City.

How much can Forest blame VAR?

When former Scotland striker Steven Fletcher told the world via social media that he had submitted a transfer request in 2012, it felt like breaking through football's fourth wall.

“I've just handed in a transfer request just to let the fans know where I stand now,” Fletcher, who was playing for Wolves at the time, tweeted with the immortal hashtag “head gone.”

It was a window into the inner workings of football, but Fletcher was just a frustrated rogue.

Twelve years later, a professional football club experienced its Fletcher moment.

“We warned PGMOL that VAR was a Luton supporter before the game but they did not change it,” Nottingham Forest tweeted. Football legacy and Twitter.

This is, this is the level to which clubs descend. Liverpool had said VAR “undermines sporting integrity” earlier in the season, Arsenal had agreed to “even more unacceptable refereeing”, and now Forest has gone all out on the Homeland, having had a bad day and crashing his phone into a railing.

Obviously, Forest should have been awarded at least two penalties, and yes, they have endured some terrible decisions this season, but as if every club in the Premier League has also suffered terrible calls on the pitch, maybe, just maybe, they might. The English rulers would have done this. Have I simply made mistakes?

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There is much evidence for this. Reams of it, in fact.

What there is absolutely no evidence of, unless Forrest is about to present it to the world, is prejudice of this kind among the senior rulers. And to be honest, if you're going to make claims of this sort on social media – and you're not a disturbed fan six pints deep – you should probably show some evidence.

But if Forest don't understand the decisions that have gone against them and the only excuse they can offer is that Stuart Attwell is a Luton fan, then it really begs the question: who is Mark Clattenburg – who has been appointed as club manager? Referee Analyst – Does he do anything other than give Jon Anderson a bad impression on the wrestlers?

How bad is the situation at City, really?

Sometimes it's only when you go on holiday, or maybe something serious happens in your personal life, that you take a step back and realize how absolutely crazy football is.

It's a confused melodrama when you think about it.

Pep Guardiola, when speaking about the health of his players on Saturday after their recent run of games, including a Champions League quarter-final defeat to Real Madrid on Wednesday, said he did not understand how they “survived” the FA Cup semi-final. Final against Chelsea.

“This is not normal, it is unacceptable for us to play today,” Guardiola said, bemoaning the fact that his team could not have postponed the match until the next day. He was then asked whether he or Manchester City had contacted the FA about the issue. “In this country, they don't change anything,” he replied, two days after the Etihad ended more than a century of tradition by abandoning FA Cup replays so that the likes of City could be a little more active for Tuesday night's thrilling trips to Leipzig.

Guardiola was naturally happy with the decision: “It's much better… We have a tight schedule with a lot of games.”

They also have more money than almost any football club in the world, with the ability to buy any player they want, not to mention having the best academy in English football.

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What else does Guardiola want that could help his team? Maybe he wants to clear the air at all matches. Maybe teams with more ball in the match should get an extra point. The ball probably shouldn't be allowed to be higher than 20 feet off the ground. Or perhaps clubs accused of breaching numerous financial regulations between 2009 and 2018 should have their hearings – not to mention any potential punishment – ​​delayed indefinitely while they continue to win cup after cup, and less influential clubs are deducted points for the rules they broke. Because they're desperately trying to keep up with the big spenders in the league?

If you're going to build one of the most expensive teams ever assembled with owners whose fortunes seem endless, chances are you (unless you're Chelsea) will be deep in several competitions and will have to play a lot of matches. Try rotating your team instead of making just four changes. Or better yet, stop complaining after the game you won.


  • Winning the league title is great. Being ahead of your local rivals in the list of most titles ever won in your country is very notable. Only winning a second league title in the last 14 years when you have a top club, and the last one wasn't the same because it was in the pandemic season without fans, which is very good. Winning the aforementioned league title by defeating the aforementioned local rivals in a match is exceptional, amazing and extremely rare. Inter Milan, as the away team, can do all of these things with a win at San Siro tonight over Milan.
  • Speaking of a local derby with a lot going for it, Everton host Liverpool on Wednesday night in a match that is constantly described as delicious, but in reality, since the turn of the century, Liverpool have won 28 derbies to Everton's five. If the Reds do not reach 29th place at Goodison Park, their quest for the title is almost certainly over.
  • Manchester City will return to action on Thursday away to Brighton, if that goes well with Pep.

(Top image: Getty Images)