Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom is likely to receive a reprimand from the FA for criticising referee Peter Bankes. Heckingbottom expressed his frustration with the match officials after his team’s 2-1 loss to Spurs, despite leading for most of the game, with a dozen minutes of added time.
During the match, Bankes issued a total of 13 yellow cards, including a second one to United striker Oli McBurnie. While the game featured a lot of time-wasting, there were few significant fouls. Heckingbottom went as far as suggesting that the referee lacked an understanding of the sport, especially in his handling of goalkeeper Wes Foderingham, which greatly angered him.
Foderingham had been cautioned in the first half for handling the ball outside his penalty area and subsequently received repeated warnings from Bankes to pick up the pace. However, Heckingbottom believed this treatment was unjust, as his goalkeeper was merely waiting for his teammates to position themselves.
The Blades gaffer said in the post-match press conference [published by TalkSPORT]:
“It is pointless seeing him after. I know how little they know about football. I am not moaning about decisions, it is game management, understanding the game. Appalling, appalling, that is what I told him after the game. Absolutely appalling. I bet Spurs will say the same.
“It’s my opinion, others may disagree. I get concerned where the game is going, it is not me moaning about Sheffield United, it is me moaning about football. I watch it all the time. I am watching all the games. Where I tear my hair out is that I don’t know what decisions are being given.
“How can I go and make this player better when he is defending when I don’t know how to tell him to defend for a penalty? Does this make sense? Game management.
“We’ve worked really hard on our plan and it is working really well. Then we have to kick long. And we end up shouting on towards the end. Robbo [Jack Robinson] is still looking to split to play and we are panicking. We have seen Peter [Bankes, referee] wave Wes [Foderingham] all the time. He is going to book him, he is going to book him. And we have to make sure that Robbo is then sprinting up. So it wouldn’t be Wes’ fault.”
Former referee’s opinion
Premier League officials have come under scrutiny in the early weeks of this campaign due to constant errors or lack of consistency. At what point does the FA decide to have a serious overhaul in the refereeing department?
Even former professional referee Keith Hackett believes that the refereeing display in the Spurs vs Sheffield United game was poor. Hackett took to Twitter to point out the Oli McBurnie second yellow card incident. He admitted that it was really poor officiating and United’s number nine was indeed fouled, which is what McBurnie was telling the referee. Hackett believes the forward was well within his right to alert the match official to a foul on him.