If the Man of the Match award is given out to the most influential individual on the football pitch, then referee Kevin Friend should be downing a bottle of champagne tonight. His performance at Old Trafford was stunning in its incompetence: having rightly awarded Bournemouth a penalty in the first-half, Friend promptly proceeded to lose the arse, and got virtually everything wrong from there. The first-half ended with a minute of lunatic violence: Tyrone Mings stamped on Zlatan's head, and a minute later, Ibra exacted revenge through the butt of his elbow. Neither player was punished, but poor old Andrew Surman was sent off for a second yellow.
The second-half continued in such a hapless vein. There were two identical handballs in Bournemouth's penalty area in the second half: Friend gave a penalty for the first (which Zlatan missed), and didn't award the second.
The worst decision of all, however, was this incident involving Irish midfielder Harry Arter.
Arter was accidentally smashed in the face by Paul Pogba's shoulder and appeared to be knocked out cold. If he did maintain consciousness, it was quite clear that Arter was suffering from a head injury: and as the rules stipulate, the game should have been stopped. Astonishingly, Friend played on, and even stood in front of Arter to exaggerate his ignorance. Even if Friend had missed the incident, he has two linesmen and a fourth official to lean on, and if they beseeched him to stop the game, he ignored them.
Deary me.... pic.twitter.com/MwtXvGd2v3
— Ian Walsh (@walsh_i) March 4, 2017
Arter was, admittedly, fortunate not to pick up a second booking a few minutes later for a very late tackle on Pogba, but overall, he was outstanding.
Big up Bournemouth and in particular Harry Arter. He didn't stop running for the entire game and his appetite and passing range were class
— Paul Egunjobi (@PaullyyE1) March 4, 2017
— Nick Patel (@NickPatel90) March 4, 2017
Arter even got involved with Jose Mourinho at half-time:
Mourinho tells Arter to F**k off!
Guardiola hugged him for what he has been through.
Class is permanent. pic.twitter.com/hhU3b8mbCJ
— BlueCityZen (@BlueCitizen007) March 4, 2017
United, somehow, are still sixth in the league, and miss the opportunity to leapfrog Liverpool.