Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom has labelled the officials that oversaw his side’s 2-1 defeat at the hands of Tottenham as ‘appalling’. The Blades conceded two late goals to throw away their chance of securing their first three points of the Premier League season.
Spurs created plenty of chances early on and may have felt that they were unfortunate not to have been awarded a penalty after James Maddison was brought down inside the box having been kicked in the ankle, but VAR opted not to intervene. The Blades then made Ange Postecoglou’s side rue their missed opportunities when Gustavo Hamer fired the away side into the lead in the 71st minute.
The officials ruled that 12 minutes of added time would then be played, and they proved decisive. Richarlison headed home from close range in the 98th minute before Dejan Kulusevski smashed a fine strike into the top corner just two minutes later to complete the comeback.
Heckingbottom was quick to praise Spurs’ late display after the full-time whistle sounded, but also made it no secret that he was unhappy with the performance of referee Peter Bankes and his team. Speaking after the match, he said: “It is what it is, but we’ve got to focus on the performance. We were close to getting three points, then one and then it slipped away. But like I said to the players, we’ve got to keep focusing on us and what we do.
“Something needs to be done now. And this is not me moaning, I said it half-time and when we were 1-0 up as well. The focus is on timewasting so the referees are dictating how we play. We set up from the back, then Spurs push forward and then that dictates how we play. But no, we’re just told to play long. You can’t do it.
“Wes (Foderingham) got a yellow card for handling outside the box and then got threatened with a sending off (for timewasting) you can’t do it. The officiating is appalling, and it’s not about the football decisions, it’s just game management.
“My worry is all the focus is on yellow cards for time wasting and when I talked to the referees they haven’t got a clue what I’m talking about. They’re officiating the game, they simply do not know the game. We need to sort that and sort that quick. It’s ruining the spectacle.”
Heckingbottom’s afternoon went from bad to worse in the dying embers of the match when Ollie McBurnie was sent off for two bookable offences after appealing against a late decision.
His manager continued: “To sum it all up we get Ollie McBurnie sent off for telling the referee that someone is pulling his shirt. We’ve just seen someone lead with an elbow into our goalkeeper who needs stitches and that’s the same offence. What’s going on, seriously what’s going on with our game?”