Manchester United’s theatre of dreams might have played host to a drama of a different kind. Nottingham Forest, illustrious in history and driven by the ambitions of manager Steve Cooper, left Old Trafford with more than just the sting of a 3-2 defeat.
Cooper’s Quiet Contemplation
“I’ve always been told to bite my tongue,” Cooper voiced, choosing his words with caution after the final whistle. He didn’t elaborate further on his thoughts regarding referee Stuart Attwell and the officiating team, but the tension was palpable.
The Calls that Sparked Controversy
The turning point in the clash between Manchester United and Forest revolved around two contentious decisions. The first saw Forest’s stalwart skipper, Joe Worrall, being shown a straight red card for what Attwell deemed a last-man foul on the effervescent Bruno Fernandes. The presence of Willy Boly, Worrall’s defensive compatriot, lurking nearby made this decision even more questionable.
The drama unfolded further when a challenge by Forest’s Danilo on Manchester’s local lad, Marcus Rashford, resulted in a penalty. Many an eye, including those loyal to the Forest banner, saw the decision as overly harsh. Fernandes, with his usual composure, converted the spot-kick – the goal that would ultimately seal the win for the Red Devils.
VAR Weighs In
Video assistant referee Robert Jones gave both decisions a once-over, siding with Attwell’s on-pitch judgments. It’s another instance where VAR, brought in to eliminate errors, leaves the footballing world pondering its efficacy.
Forest’s Next Steps
Forest’s corridors of power now echo with whispers of a potential formal complaint to the PGMOL. This comes at a time when PGMOL is already under scrutiny, especially in the wake of Mike Dean’s eyebrow-raising omission last season during Chelsea’s clash with Tottenham.
Cooper reflected on the match, where Forest had an electric start, leading 2-0 in just the fourth minute: “In fixtures of this magnitude, one expects the decisions to be fair. The speed at which these were taken did surprise me.”
It’s evident that these moments, as Cooper rightly pointed out, weren’t just pivotal; they were defining.