Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger both criticised referee Andre Marriner after a breathless Premier League encounter which saw Manchester United win 3-1 at Arsenal on Saturday night.
Jesse Lingard scored twice and Paul Pogba was sent off to earn a ban for the Manchester derby as David De Gea’s brilliance denied the Gunners time and again.
Mourinho says Pogba was frustrated with fellow Frenchman Laurent Koscielny’s reaction to his studs-up challenge on Hector Bellerin which earned a straight red card and an automatic three-match ban for the United midfielder.
The Red Devils boss also felt Koscielny was fortunate not to be dismissed for hauling back Romelu Lukaku late on.
“Maybe it’s my emotion that push me for the desire of a red card, but Marriner was in charge,” Mourinho said.
“Paul is frustrated, a bit disappointed with his colleague Koscielny, with this kind of reaction.”
Mourinho was critical of Arsenal’s players for going to ground too easily.
“If it’s not a penalty, it’s not a penalty… I know the pitch is amazing, maybe creates a desire to go to the floor,” he added.
Wenger, meanwhile, compared the standard of officiating with Serie A.
“Last night I watched Napoli v Juventus on TV and we watched a top-class referee,” the Frenchman said.
“If you want to analyse well, watch the difference between them and us and then you will see. Is it right or wrong?”
It was disingenuous of both bosses to turn what was a thrilling, frenetic encounter into a debate on officiating in the Premier League.
Antonio Valencia and Lingard pounced on defensive mistakes by Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi as the visitors took a 2-0 lead inside 11 minutes at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal refused to buckle. Alexandre Lacazette netted when United’s defence stood still, but De Gea made a string of fine saves and Lingard struck again on the counter-attack.
Mourinho summed up the contest, which his side won despite Arsenal creating 33 efforts on goal, largely due to De Gea’s 14 saves – the joint most in a single league match.
“The game was fantastic,” Mourinho said.
“If I was in the stands, if I was at home, I would be sad to see the game finish. In my case it’s different, because I want to win and I want the game to finish.”
Wenger had a different perspective after Arsenal’s aberrations in the opening skirmishes.
“At the back we didn’t start well at all,” the Gunners boss said.
“We put ourselves in a very difficult position. Despite that, we had enough chances to come back.
“When you have 33 shots on goal in a game of that stature, it means our dominance was top class.
“Our spirit was outstanding, the quality of our performance was outstanding.
“But I’m angry and disappointed because at the end we have nothing to show for it. In games like that you have to be efficient.”
Mustafi was caught napping by Lingard for United’s second and was replaced immediately afterwards, limping off apparently with a right ankle problem.
Yet, tellingly, Wenger did not shed any further light.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with him at all,” he said.
The win saw second-placed United move five points behind rivals City, who play West Ham on Sunday.
Mourinho insisted his focus was on Tuesday’s Champions League tie with CSKA Moscow.
He said: “There is no message (on the title race). There is match after match and now CSKA.”