Fulham boss Marco Silva says Aleksandar Mitrovic should control his emotions, but feels the striker does not deserve a long ban for shoving referee Chris Kavanagh at Old Trafford.
Fulham were leading 1-0 when Willian handled Jadon Sancho’s goal-bound shot on the line with 20 minutes left.
Silva said he was sent off for leaving his technical area as the referee viewed a replay on the pitchside monitor.
However, the Fulham boss admitted he did shout at the official. “I am not going to lie. I didn’t say he was a really nice guy and the decision was fair. But he didn’t hear me,” Silva said.
Willian was dismissed for deliberate handball, prompting a furious response from Fulham goalscorer Mitrovic, who angrily shoved Kavanagh’s arm and had to be dragged away from the official twice by club staff and team-mates after he had also been shown a red card.
Former Premier League striker Chris Sutton, speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, said the player should receive a 10-game ban.
“He saw the red mist. That’s no excuse. You cannot lay your hand on an official,” said Sutton, adding that he felt Bruno Fernandes should have received the same ban for appearing to push an official during United’s 7-0 defeat by Liverpool.
“In my opinion, it will impact further down the chain at grassroots level. There will be kids watching the game today who think, well if Mitrovic can do it, so can I.”
In his post-match press conference, Silva was asked whether he expected Mitrovic to receive a lengthy ban, such as the 11-match punishment Paolo Di Canio received for shoving referee Paul Alcock in 1998.
“I didn’t see in a so, so bad way,” said Silva. “He pushed the referee and Mitro should control his emotions. I saw the image and I will speak with him.
“But I hope the people who are going to decide do so with fairness that the moment deserves.”
Silva claimed Fulham had been denied two penalties for fouls on Mitrovic earlier in the game.
He also launched a personal attack on Kavanagh, recalling a defeat against West Ham in October when he was booked for arguing over a goal he did not believe should have stood.
“Our story with Chris Kavanagh this season has been tough for us,” he said.
“Unfortunately, we have been very unlucky with him this season. Many moments. It is difficult to understand some of the decisions.
“We had that West Ham game away from home. We lost the game with two clear handball goals and it was Chris Kavanagh in that moment. Today, everyone saw what is happening in this game. It is difficult for them to not look for these things.”
‘We have to set an example’ – Ten Hag
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag said the penalty decision against Willian was correct, but that the furore surrounding it was pivotal in deciding the contest.
The Dutchman has had his own issues with officials this season. He was booked in Barcelona last month for arguing over decisions during United’s 2-2 draw, and was furious at Casemiro’s recent red card against Southampton, which brought the Brazilian a four-match ban.
Those incidents come at a time when there is increased scrutiny over the treatment of referees at grassroots levels amid reports of a growing number of threats against them.
“It is not easy,” Ten Hag said. “Last week I was so frustrated when you see so many bad decisions that you feel are against you, but you have to clear your mind and keep managing the game.
“Referees also have to take responsibility but, you are right, we have to set an example.”