The fall-out from a crazy first half between Manchester United and Bournemouth will continue long after the final whistle on Saturday. It could yet cost Zlatan Ibrahimovic dear if referee Kevin Friend admits he missed the Swede’s vicious elbow on Tyrone Mings.
Having picked up a yellow card for shooting his mouth off after Friend had awarded a penalty to Bournemouth moments earlier, Ibrahimovic should undoubtedly have seen red for planting a pre-meditated elbow in the face of the Cherries defender.
Yes, there had been a couple of clashes between the two earlier, with Ibrahimovic throwing Mings to the ground in back play and the Bournemouth man stamping on a stricken Ibra after having clearly seen the United striker prostrate on the ground. But, despite the claims of Sky pundit Jamie Carragher at half-time, Mings did not deserve to have an elbow thrust in his face as a result.
It is all now down to Friend’s post-match report to the FA to decide if Ibrahimovic will miss the FA Cup quarter-final trip to Chelsea, along with league fixtures against Middlesbrough and West Brom. If he claims to have seen everything relevant and made an assertion that leniency was the best response, Zlatan will get away with it.
Friend will have documentation enough to deal with from Andrew Surman’s red card for a foul on Luke Shaw and then a push on Ibrahimovic after the Mings situation started to get out of hand, as well as explaining why it took him some time afterward to realise that the Bournemouth skipper’s two bookings had reserved him an early bath.
But both Ibrahimovic and Mings deserve bans for their despicable actions and, as such, it would surely be in football’s best interests that the referee admits having missed some of the events which went on so that the FA are in a position to act. In what had until then been an entertaining spectacle, the petty thuggery of both marred the afternoon.