Man U won their fourth straight match a 2-0 shutout of West Ham. The Guardians Nick Adams wrote; “Slaven Bilic lamented the early red card shown to Sofiane Feghouli in West Ham’s 2-0 defeat to Manchester United and said that Phil Jones would have been a more suitable target for punishment.
Feghouli was dismissed by the referee Mike Dean in the 15th minute after what had seemed a fair challenge with Jones, who won the ball but was caught afterwards by the midfielder’s follow-through. There was no suggestion of malicious intent but Dean chose to take the severest action for a perceived offence that the West Ham manager – an uncomprehending figure on the touchline at the time – did not feel merited even a booking.
“I was very surprised,” Bilic said of the decision. “You know me, I’m the first one who says [referees] have a difficult job, and every time we look at a slow motion I go: ‘Yeah, they don’t have that in real time.’ But I said it then – I wouldn’t have been happy with a yellow. I said it to the fourth official and to [José] Mourinho, it’s not a yellow. If it was yellow I’d be asking: ‘Why a yellow so early in the game for basically nothing?’ And you have to know it’s Feghouli – he very rarely makes a foul.”
Jones, who appeared to be hurt by the tackle, was deflecting attention from his own misjudgment. “After the game, when I saw it, it gave me proof that I’m right,” Bilic said. “The more times I’ve seen it, it’s the other way round. It was Jones who made a more dangerous tackle than Feghouli, like a scissor. He got the ball, OK, but that was dangerous. Maybe his reaction was to save himself, but definitely not a red card.” The manager confirmed that West Ham will appeal the decision, saying he expected a resolution in his club’s favour and that he would be “gutted” to lose Feghouli for three matches. West Ham had started brightly and, even though they still created chances to take the lead with 10 men, losing a player fundamentally altered their approach.
“Of course the decision had an impact, so early,” he said. “I won’t say it killed us because we continued to play well, but it had a major impact on the game that prevented us from hurting them more.”
Mourinho preferred to focus on the Premier League’s scheduling. Both sides were playing their second game in a little more than 48 hours and the United manager said that despite their eventual breakthrough, it had been difficult for United to play well. “It was not a very good performance,” he said. “I think it’s very difficult to play football in these circumstances, with 48 hours [between games].
“It’s amazing for fans around the world, where nobody has football, and I’m more than happy to do that, but it’s very hard for the players. When you have one player more, you need to think well. They were too tired to think well, and made lots of wrong decisions. It was only when I got fresh people on, [Juan] Mata and [Marcus] Rashford, that the team was different.”