Resident BT Sport talking head and former referee Howard Webb is the latest high-profile figure to openly criticise Mark Clattenburg for his performance in last weekend’s FA Cup Final.
The response of referees from years gone by when asked for analysis on the performance of an official usually toes the metaphorical company line so as not to rock the boat, but on this occasion, Webb has pulled no punches whatsoever in admitting that Clattenburg’s display at Wembley was unacceptably poor.
The main gripe many have over the North East native’s refereeing on the day centres around his refusal to allow play to develop twice in the opening 45 minutes when Crystal Palace had broke clear of the Manchester United defence and were in fact, through on goal.
The first instance, which has undoubtedly proved to be the most controversial, involved Connor Wickham and United’s Chris Smalling, who, after engaging in a lung-bursting foot race, both touched the turf after a coming together just outside the box. Despite the former having never lost his balance, Clattenburg blew for a free-kick instantly, stopping the by now clean through former Sunderland man from taking a hard-earned shot at goal from close-range.
The consternation from both the stands and the touch-line was clear for all to see, with Clattenburg himself appearing to wince in the immediate aftermath of his mistake. That didn’t stop him from making an incredibly similar mistake as the opening 45 minutes were drawing to a close, blowing up to halt Joel Ward down the right flank for an infringement by Marcus Rojo, despite the full-back looking to have the beating of him from the very start of their race down the line.
The comments from Howard Webb (attached at the top of the page) pour scorn on the individual performance of Clattenburg in a very direct manner, which may not make up for the defeat we suffered, but does at least prove that everyone across the game can agree that we were put at a distinct disadvantage by an inept performance from the man in the middle.
I was genuinely shocked to see Webb speaking so frankly about his disappointment with Clattenburg’s work.