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02nd Jan 2017

Man United fans will enjoy José Mourinho’s response to controversial refereeing decisions at West Ham

Quite different to how things were a few weeks ago

Simon Lloyd

Only a few weeks ago, a downbeat José Mourinho was bemoaning Manchester United’s lack of luck.

After Olivier Giroud snatched a late equaliser for Arsenal at Old Trafford, he went as far as describing them as “the unluckiest team in the Premier League”.

The 1-1 draw with Arsenal had followed draws at home to Burnley and Stoke City – games in which United had also been dominant. Although his side were guilty of missing chances by the bucket load in those three games, Mourinho also made it clear that he felt his players were on the wrong end of some poor refereeing decisions.

Having taken his frustrations out on a water bottle following what he perceived to be another poor call from an official in another home draw with West Ham, Mourinho was hit with his second touchline ban of the season.

Now though, things seem far more positive for Mourinho and his team.

In their reverse fixture with West Ham at the London Stadium, they chalked up their sixth straight win in the league. And this time, a couple of key decisions went in favour of Mourinho’s men.

First, Mike Dean’s decision to show Sofiane Feghouli a straight red after just 15 minutes made United’s task easier. Many watching felt the Algerian’s challenge on Phil Jones wasn’t worthy of a dismissal.

Then, already leading through Juan Mata’s goal, Zlatan Ibrahimovic made sure of the points when he tucked away a second – despite clearly being offside when the ball was played to him by Ander Herrera.

In a post-match interview, the United boss made clear that he wasn’t too concerned that a couple of poor calls had worked in his favour.

“If you speak about the decisions, Manchester United are the champions of wrong decisions,” Mourinho had said.

Afterwards, when it was put to him in a post-match press conference that the decisions had been kind for his team, Mourinho replied: “Which decisions? My decisions to play [goal scorer] Mata at half-time and Rashford [who made the assist for Mata’s goal] later? Thank you very much.”

When a journalist clarified that this was a reference to the officials’ decisions,  he added: “No, not at all. When I play at home I have in my office every details, at half-time I can watch, after the match I watch immediately, I know immediately the [disallowed] Zlatan goal against Middlesbrough is a goal, I know it is a penalty on Rashford minute 76, I know immediately.

“But when I play away I don’t have access to that so I cannot comment on that decision, I cannot comment also on Kouyate tackle on Mkhitaryan, I cannot comment.”

Gary Neville, who had been on co-commentary duty for Sky’s coverage of the match, had suggested that the challenge from Kouyate on Mkhitaryan was more worthy of a sending off than the earlier challenge which led to Feghouli’s red card.