CHRIS SUTTON and MIKE DEAN clash over Man United's latest penalty

CHRIS SUTTON claims referees are in Man United’s pocket after they win another dubious penalty at Old Trafford… but MIKE DEAN insists that’s a big myth and Marcus Rashford did not dive

  • Bruno Fernandes penalty helped Manchester United beat Nottingham Forest 
  • The hosts were awarded the controversial penalty for a foul on Marcus Rashford 
  • WATCH: ‘It’s All Kicking Off’ – Episode 2 – Mail Sport’s brand new football show 

Manchester United completed a stunning turnaround against Nottingham Forest on Saturday with the Red Devils fighting back from two goals down to win 3-2 at Old Trafford.

Bruno Fernandes completed the comeback from the penalty spot after Marcus Rashford was adjudged to have been fouled by Danilo.

Nottingham Forest felt aggrieved by referee Stuart Attwell’s decision, as well as the red card shown to captain Joe Worrall in the second half.

Mail Sport’s CHRIS SUTTON insists it is understandable why club’s feel there is a ‘big club bias’ when decisions go against them at Old Trafford.

Former Premier League referee MIKE DEAN insists the claims of bias in favour of Manchester United are a myth. 

Bruno Fernandes penalty was decisive as Manchester United beat Nottingham Forest

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It’s December 1993 at Old Trafford and Norwich City are losing 2-1 to Manchester United. I burst into the box, Gary Pallister pulls me back, and we’re awarded a penalty by Martin Bodenham. Ruel Fox drills it down the middle of Peter Schmeichel’s goal and we draw 2-2. 

In time this turned out to be a historic moment. Why? Because it wasn’t until April 2004 that another visiting Premier League team scored a penalty at Old Trafford. 

Yes, you read that right – United’s home fans went more than a decade without seeing a spot-kick scored against them! It is easy to see why some opponents can feel there is a ‘big club bias’. 

Decisions tended to go United’s way in my day and they still do, especially at Old Trafford. 

Just look at their 3-2 win over Nottingham Forest on Saturday. Marcus Rashford dropped down under minimal pressure from Danilo. You might call it clever. I call it cheating. Rashford dived, referee Stuart Attwell fell for it, VAR Robert Jones did not intervene, Bruno Fernandes scored and Forest lost. 

Had this been the other way around, would the visitors have been awarded a penalty? Steve Cooper does not seem to think so. When a United player drops down in the box, the threshold for a penalty never seems to be as high as it is for their opponents.

Chris Sutton believes Marcus Rashford dived to win a penalty in Man United’s 3-2 victory

Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper was angered by decisions made in their defeat


Sorry to disappoint you, Chris, but it’s a myth that Manchester United get favourable treatment from referees at Old Trafford. I was never frightened of refereeing there. I loved it. 

When the appointments list is mailed round on a Monday, you’re buzzing if you get that gig, because you want to officiate in the biggest stadiums and they hardly come bigger than Old Trafford. 

It’s absurd to think that an official would walk out on to that pitch feeling as if he has to do United any favours. That includes Saturday’s referee Stuart Attwell. 

You may think their penalty against Nottingham Forest was harsh, but there was enough in Danilo’s challenge on Marcus Rashford for it to be awarded. Attwell saw that Rashford was caught by Danilo and VAR Robert Jones verified that it was not a clear and obvious error. 

Jones saw there was contact from Danilo’s knee on Rashford’s thigh. Therefore, it was no dive by Rashford. It was a foul by Danilo. We want referees to be brave enough to make their own decisions on the pitch, rather than rely on VAR, and Attwell did that. 

Referee Stuart Attwell has faced criticism from Nottingham Forest over decisions in the match

The statistics say that was the 108th Premier League penalty that United have been awarded at Old Trafford, while they’ve had 34 given against them. That difference is largely a consequence of the way they play their football. 

Under Sir Alex Ferguson, United were a possession-based attack-minded team, so naturally they were going to create more chances where penalties could be called. I’m often asked what it was like to face Ferguson. 

He wasn’t the happiest when I awarded Hull City a penalty at Old Trafford in November 2008 – despite United going on to win the game 4-3! – but he was largely a gentleman. 

Not once did he come banging down my dressing room door to give me the ‘hairdryer treatment’. I’ve got no hair to dry anyway!


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