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Ex-Blackburn Rovers and Chelsea striker, Chris Sutton, has sensationally claimed that Fulham striker, Aleksandar Mitrovic, should face a ten-game ban for the red card he received in Sunday’s FA Cup match between Manchester United and Fulham.
Mitrovic saw red after appearing to aggressively push referee, Chris Kavanagh, after the official awarded Manchester United a penalty in the second half. The decision to award United a penalty also went down badly with the Fulham coaching staff with manager Marco Silva also being sent off for his reaction to the decision. It isn’t the first time that Silva has seen red this season.
The decision itself shouldn’t really have been a surprising one. Jadon Sancho had rounded Leno in the Fulham goal and his goal-bound effort was only denied by Willian handballing it on the goal line. Although Kavanagh didn’t originally award a penalty, a VAR review showed him that it was a penalty for United and a red card for the Brazilian winger.
Speaking on BBC Five Live after the game, Sutton said that he believes it’s important that players receive severe punishments for putting their hands on officials. He said:
“He saw the red mist. That’s not an excuse. You cannot lay your hand on an official. In my opinion, it will impact further down the chain at grassroots level. There will be kids watching the game today who think, well if Mitrovic can do it, so can I.”
Silva defends his centre forward
Many pundits have suggested that the outrage displayed by Marco Silva on the touchline had spread onto the pitch, which resulted in Mitrovic shoving the referee. The 45-year-old admitted afterwards that he has an issue with Kavanagh, who he believes has been at the centre of a number of controversial moments this season.
While Silva accepts that Mitrovic shouldn’t have reacted how he did, he doesn’t believe that a harsh punishment is necessary. He said:
“He pushed the referee and Mitro should control his emotions. I saw the image and I will speak with him. I hope the people who are going to decide (the length of the ban) do so with fairness that the moment deserves.
Our story with Chris Kavanagh this season has been tough for us. Unfortunately, we have been very unlucky with him this season. It is difficult to understand some of the decisions.”
Chris Sutton believes Aleksandar Mitrovic should receive a 10-game ban 🗣️ pic.twitter.com/SAgT8nKZf9
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) March 20, 2023
Ten Hag sympathy
Silva’s opposite number on the day, Erik Ten Hag, had sympathy for the Fulham boss after the game. The Dutchman has been involved in a couple of touchline arguments with referees himself this season, and his captain Bruno Fernandes was involved in an incident where he pushed a linesman in the 7-0 loss to Liverpool two weeks ago.
Ten Hag was adamant that the right decision had been made, both on the penalty and the subsequent red card for Willian, but admitted that it is sometimes difficult to keep a lid on emotions on the touchline. He told reporters:
“It is not easy. Last week I was so frustrated when you see so many bad decisions that you feel are against you, but you have to clear your mind and keep managing the game.”
Ten Hag also said that professional managers and players have to set an example for those at grassroots level to ensure referee abuse doesn’t worsen.
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