Manchester United defender Harry Maguire has launched a scathing attack on referees in the Premier League and the confusion surrounding what is and isn’t a penalty.
According to The Mirror, the former United captain has “slammed” the “ridiculous mess” surrounding penalties at the moment.
Despite experiencing somewhat of a renaissance this season, the England international has had a torrid time of it over the last two or three years.
The defender has become the butt of many jokes and copious memes and YouTube videos have been released taking pleasure in documenting his all too frequent errors, mainly while donning the red of United.
Things got so bad that at one point, various pundits, managers and players referred to the treatment Maguire was receiving as bullying and called for it to stop. The abuse led to even the player’s own mother feeling she had to release a statement to demand that fans desist from such negativity and that she wished “this sort of abuse on nobody”.
Maguire has now turned his fire on the quality of refereeing and in particular, their decisions in regard to penalties. There have been numerous contentious decisions this season at home and abroad. Maguire stated that “for me, penalties in the last six months, a year or so, especially in the Premier League, all over the world really, the Champions League, they are given for anything. They are so soft”.
The man capped 62 times for his country believes that under current circumstances it is impossible for defenders to defend properly. He exasperates that players should be able to move their body, their arms and make contact.
While the United number five has a strong point, the defender can certainly be guilty of over-indulging in the physical side. In his country’s recent game against North Macedonia, The Peoples Person reported on a comical incident, where the defender pulled down a Macedonian player in a rugby style tackle but somehow avoided a foul being given against him.
Nevertheless, his point is still valid. The United player fumed that ”nowadays, penalties are given for everything”. He believes that some of the decisions that have been given this season are ridiculous and the Premier League should lead the way in changing the threshold of what is and is not a penalty kick.
Manchester United have certainly suffered this season when they broke a record of being the first team in the Champions League to concede four penalties in their first four group games. United fans have also been enraged by VAR on numerous occasions this season.
Although Maguire does admit that the soft penalties are not only going against his side. “It’s not just at my club, watching them each weekend, I see them given for handballs where I don’t know where lads are supposed to put their arms”.
Some people associated with the sport have already gone much further. Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta recently claimed he “was embarrassed” to be associated with referees in England and Brighton boss, Roberto De Zerbi claimed to dislike 80% of officials in the country.
Therefore, the Englishman’s comments will certainly strike a chord with the majority of fans and in turn, will hopefully begin to spark debate amongst the league and PGMOL before fans, managers and players all begin to lose too much faith in the refereeing system and the game we love.