Jamie Carragher has labelled Mark Clattenburg’s latest comments, in regard to officials’ perceived bias for Manchester United during Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure, a “joke”, as reported by the Echo.
The ex-Premier League referee had accidentally revealed that Ferguson’s United used to receive “favourable” treatment from the league’s officials, and that the “aura” around the club had only “eased”.
“But the stuff that Mark Clattenburg came out with was unbelievable. When you look at why Manchester United dropped off, and why they are now back in the race…” the former Liverpool defender began. “You have a referee who has suggested that (Sir Alex) Ferguson made them (the referees) give penalties to United, basically. They were terrified not to give penalties.”
“Now they are getting penalties again, and they are challenging again,” Carragher continued. “Mad isn’t it – what a coincidence!”
On their own, Carragher’s comments may have invited accusations of conspiratorial thinking but, in light of Clattenburg’s gaffe, they’re a genuine concern.
Why should we believe that the Manchester-based club is on an equal footing with every other side in the league when a former official – who was around in the Ferguson years – admitted that the situation was anything but?
Matters are hardly helped when you have that very same referee admit that five of United’s 11 penalties this season – which the Englishman has “closely” analysed – invited or initiated contact.
The United “aura” of old may have “eased”, but it most certainly has not, based on the evidence available, disappeared.
Given that close attention will now likely be paid to Paul Tierney in today’s pivotal tie with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, we’d hope that the 40-year-old’s officiating will be comparatively up to scratch.