Angry Chris Wilder confused by how Sheffield United lost to Aston Villa

Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, criticised referee Graham Scott’s decision to send-off John Egan during last night’s defeat at Aston Villa, which leaves the visitors still searching for their first point of the new Premier League season.

By James Shield
Tuesday, 22nd September 2020, 6:15 am

Speaking after the United captain saw red for denying Ollie Watkins a goal scoring opportunity less than a quarter-of-an-hour into the game, Wilder also admitted to be “utterly confused” why Villa’s Matt Targett remained on the pitch after conceding a first-half penalty - which John Lundstram missed.

Questioning why Scott and Mike Dean, the VAR official, chose to dismiss Egan when the assistant referee nearest the incident did not flag for a foul, Wilder said: “I wanted to see Graham after the game because, for me, we’ve been on the receiving end of two poor decisions before he break out there - two decisions that I’m utterly confused about.

“The first one, how can he (Scott) be certain that was a foul because what I saw was two players grappling for the ball. Yes, John has put himself in a poor position but the linesman didn’t give it, did he. Actually, I’m told they’re called assistant referees now, which means they assist the referee. And he didn’t give anything.

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Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder speaks with Referee Graham Scott at the end of the first half during the Premier League match at Villa Park, Birmingham. Clive Rose/NMC Pool/PA Wire.

“The second, when their lad (Targett) brings Bash (Chris Basham) down, I understand that if he makes an attempt to play the ball but commits a foul, then the penalty is enough because that’s double jeopardy. But there’s no way he can make an attempt to get the ball, because Bash does great to get his body in between.

"So I’m utterly confused as to what’s happened there. Listen, if I’m wrong then I’ll hold my hands up. But I’ve been in the game a long time and I like to think I know what I’m talking about.”

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After producing a spirited display which, but for Emiliano Martinez’s save from Lundstram would have seen them take the lead, United fell behind when Ezri Konsa headed home from a Targett corner following Tyrone Mings’ flick-on. The result means United will enter this weekend’s game against Leeds on the back of two straight defeats, having also been beaten by Wolverhampton Wanderers seven days earlier.

“I thought the attitude of the lads’ was superb, I thought their shape was superb so there were things to take,” Wilder said. “But ultimately we want those to be points and we shouldn’t have conceded from a set piece, because that’s when things are equal.”

“But I’m at a loss to explain where the game is going now, with some of the decisions that are being made. Maybe I need to go on a referee’s course but, really, there needs to be clarification I think because this keeps happening too many times. I don’t think people know where they are now, with some of the things that are being given.”

United defender Chris Basham said afterwards: “It was deflating to concede from a set-piece, and as the manager said after the game that's two in two games now.”