The official is now accused by Chelsea of using “inappropriate language” towards two their players in a game that, prior to the debilitating sendings off of Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres, had hung tightly in the balance at 2-2.
Chelsea are launching an official complaint against referee Clattenburg but, with the spotlight on the ref, his murky history on and off the field have come under glaring scrutiny of they public eye.
Clattenburg made his first league appearance at just 25 years of age in a 2000 fixture between Chesterfield and York but since then his judgment has been called into question on a number of high-profile occasions.
His 2005 oversight when Tottenham Hotspur’s Pedro Mendes ‘goal’ was disallowed despite clearly crossing the line against Manchester United could otherwise be forgiven – referees do not receive the benefit of slow-motion replays from a variety of angles as fans, managers and commentators do.
But in 2008, Clattenburg was suspended under Professional Game Match Officials regulations under allegations that he owed £60,000 due to the collapse of his business affairs. He received an eight-month ban from football, which he served.
Upon his return in 2009, he again came under fire – this time from Manchester City after he sent Craig Bellamy off against Bolton. Former City coach Mark Hughes claimed the referee had spoken directly to the Manchester City staff and had made an unsavory comment about Bellamy, in an informal manner.
Then there was the Nani incident in which Clattenburg allowed the Manchester United winger’s goal to stand despite Heurelho Gomes’ assertion that play had been stopped so that he could take a free-kick. The goalkeeper put the ball down and Nani kicked the ball in to his open goal, much to the disbelief of Harry Redknapp and the Spurs fans.
It seems Clattenburg’s reputation as one of the country’s leading officials has now come under fire again – except this time, it was in one of the biggest games of the Premier League season.
Ivanovic probably deserved to go for his last-ditch challenge catching Ashley Young as he strode in to the box – he was the last man and there was contact (even if minimal).
Torres could have been shown a straight red card for his karate kick on United’s Tom Cleverley. That challenge earned him his first yellow and his second came after he appeared to fall over during a tackle by Johnny Evans.
However, replays show there was in fact contact from Evans, who admitted as much in his post-match interview.
Then the 9-man Chelsea were handed their final blow as Javier Hernandez fired the winner into the back of the net – he was clearly in an offside position and the goal should have been disallowed.
It wasn’t and any recriminations on Clattenburg that may follow are unlikely to make a difference to Chelsea who recorded their first loss of the season against one of their title contenders.
Referees can decide games – bad decisions can ruin games and every good referee is bound to make a bad decision every once in a while. They’re only human after all. Video technology anyone?
image: © geetarchurchy