In one of the more hilarious, awkward, and frankly embarrassing interviews in some time, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solksjær blamed the Official Chelsea website for influencing referees into not awarding all the penalties for United, after the cagey scoreless draw between the two sides at Stamford Bridge last night.
You really do have to appreciate this in full. No, it’s not a segment from a comedy sketch show, I assure you. This is real life.
"It's all these outside influences, it's cheeky when they put that on their website, that's influencing the referees. You can read it."— Football Daily (@footballdaily) February 28, 2021
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer vents his frustrations about the penalty that wasn't given pic.twitter.com/7YK22ja6Oo
To be clear, Ole’s theory is that referee Stuart Attwell read a paragraph on the official Chelsea website (which is obviously required reading for all referees in the league) about Harry Maguire getting away with fouls against César Azpilicueta and Michy Batshuayi in recent meetings, and that was precisely why he chose to not award a borderline penalty against Chelsea. It’s the 22nd paragraph in this story. Solksjær name-checks Frank Lampard, too, because we’re all in on it obviously.
(Should’ve name-checked club historian Rick “Master of Referees” Glanvill instead!)
Always a huge game. Come on you Blues https://t.co/dL2zdwQPRs— Rick Glanvill (@RickGlanvill) February 27, 2021
Said incident occurred in the 15th minute, when Callum Hudson-Odoi and Mason Greenwood battled for an awkward ball in the Chelsea area, and the Chelsea man appeared to handle the ball. The referee did not award the penalty at first, but VAR called him over to the pitch-side monitor. Replays there were largely inconclusive, with some angles showing Greenwood handling first, some angles showing Hudson-Odoi handling first, and some angles showing Greenwood’s arm actually shoving Hudson-Odoi’s hand into the ball.
What it definitely wasn’t was a clear error or a definitive penalty.
Ole’s conspiracy theory — mind you, only Leicester City have been awarded more penalties than United so far this season! — was further fueled by a bit of hearsay, wherein the referee apparently told Maguire (him again!) that he couldn’t award the penalty because it would be “too controversial”! Well he certainly avoided that!
Offered without comment. pic.twitter.com/wYjrb7JDFx— ExpectedChelsea (@ExpectedChelsea) February 28, 2021
Since then, Manchester United have started to row back by claiming that things were “misheard”. The fans must’ve been too loud.
I’m not a huge fan of The FA fining people, but it certainly feels warranted in this case. If this isn’t bringing the game into disrepute, then I don’t know what is.
On the plus side, we’ve gotten a good laugh out of it all, discovered a good use for The 5th Stand App finally (or should we say The 12th Man App), and even got this excellent tweet from the social media team.
Read all about today's game on the Chelsea website...#CHEMUN— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 28, 2021