Mark Clattenburg’s performance during yesterday’s FA Cup Final has been roundly criticised by pundits and fans alike, with the incident below provoking derision from all corners.
With the score still at 0-0, Connor Wickham latched onto a low forward pass, engaging in a straight foot race with Manchester United centre-back Chris Smalling. As both men sprinted after the loose ball, Smalling forced the Palace striker to stumble in his pursuit of the loose ball, prompting a whistle-happy Clattenburg to blow up despite Wickham regaining his balance immediately.
The “advantage” rule, as anyone with even a basic understanding of football knows, was created for situations exactly like this, calling into question Clattenburg’s status as the widely trumpeted “best referee in the country”. Quite what he was thinking by bringing the play back straightaway is anyone’s guess, but as Martin Keown’s commentary in the above footage proves, no one, regardless of neutrality could quite get their heads around it.
Given the fact that the incident in question took place after less than 20 minutes of the game, you could easily argue that a lack of a whistle wouldn’t have necessarily seen a difference in the final score, but even so, it was a disastrous moment of officiating from a man who has rightly been labelled with the reputation of an attention seeker in recent years.
There is little point in getting too worked up about a decision that is now in the past, but it’s incredibly difficult not to feel a sense of injustice over a call which has been universally slated by people from across the footballing spectrum.
Have a look for yourself and decide, just try not to get too angry.
We’ll be back.