Mark Clattenburg is currently engaged on a one-man mission to have Alan Pardew spontaneously combust on the Wembley touchline during the FA Cup final. Clattenburg has shown little interest in allowing Crystal Palace use the advantage rule, thrice interrupting a Palace attack to award a free-kick in their favour. This has been the most surprising decision:
Clattenburg is a top referee but that is a shocking decision.
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) May 21, 2016
So far Mark Clattenburg's performance is reminiscent of Clive Thomas's disastrous 1975 Cup final: another self-regarding referee.
— Richard Williams (@rwilliams1947) May 21, 2016
As Palace's righteous indignation at the referee grows, Clattenburg may regret getting caught on camera for this extremely chummy pre-game greeting with Alex Ferguson:
This is obviously not to suggest there is anything untoward, (there was an equally friendly interaction with Pardew beforehand) but it's not a great look for Clattenburg. Ferguson stood up for Clattenburg when the referee was wrongly accused of racism in 2012, saying that he was sure he was innocent. Ferguson has been unafraid of criticising his performances in the past, however: in 2010 Ferguson laid into Clattenburg for sending off Darren Fletcher in a 1-1 draw with Birmingham, contrasting the decisions with an earlier refereeing performance:
I saw Mark Clattenburg referee Arsenal’s game against Spurs this season, when you needed to hit someone with an axe to get booked.
Fletcher didn’t deserve a booking for that foul. It was nothing.
But that was just one of the weird and wonderful decisions we saw tonight.
Clattenburg strikes you as a referee who is considering of optics, hence why he might regret this.
See Also: Rangers Release Statement Claiming Their Players Were 'Assaulted' By Hibs Fans After Cup Final