“Killing the game” - Sheffield United boss takes aim at referees after Tottenham Hotspur heartbreak

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Blades boss has “no qualms” about result but takes aim at referees

Paul Heckingbottom took aim at referee Peter Bankes’ display after his Sheffield United side suffered late heartbreak at Tottenham Hotspur this afternoon. The Blades led 1-0 going into 12 minutes of injury time before two late Spurs goals saw them return north with nothing to show for their efforts.

Heckingbottom claimed referees don’t understand the game and are “killing the game at the minute” with their application of the new rules about timewasting that were introduced this season. That led to 12 minutes of stoppage time for Spurs to build up a head of steam, with goals from Richarlison and Dejan Kulusevski leading to joyous seasons around the home end as they continued their good start to the season.

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For United, who led thanks to Gus Hamer’s 73rd-minute opener, it is now one point from five games and Heckingbottom afterwards was asked if he had complaints over United’s yellow cards, which saw Oli McBurnie pick up a second booking late on to rule him out of next weekend’s clash with Newcastle United.

“Yeah. How long have you got? It’s not funny, the referees are killing the game at the minute - absolutely ruining it. I’ve no qualms about the result. From 0-0 I was telling our keeper to hurry up. We split [our centre-backs] to play out [from goal-kicks]. We play to Anel, we play to Bash, and we play forward.

“We get out a couple of times so Spurs change. We put the ball down, Spurs change, so Wes has to make a different decision and he’s getting told to play. Why would you play then? Spurs have adapted to us so we have to change again and play something different.

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“When he handles outside the box he gets booked. I’ve no problem with Peter but the referees are just showing how little they know about the game and they’re directing it. How can that possible? I wanted to show them at half-time but I know they can’t see it. From the moment the ball is down [for a goal-kick] we’re taking it in 10 seconds but because we’re getting out and playing to Oli, Spurs change, so Wes has a different decision to make.

“He can’t make his decision until Spurs have moved. The referees haven’t got a clue, they don’t know what I’m saying. The answer back to me was: ‘Kick long, then.’ We work all week on how we want to play and the refs are dictating to us how we play the game. It can’t happen but it’s happen.”

Asked what he wants to change, Heckingbottom added: “Understand the game. They’ve been obsessed with time-wasting with yellow cards for this, this and this. He came over and complained about multi-ball four times. You’re meant to get rid of it if you’re not happy with it.

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“He just kept coming over and guess what happens then? It slows the game down again. They haven’t got a clue what they’re doing. They haven’t. They’re ruining the game. A centre-back jumps into Wes, turns his back, leads with his elbow, Wes gets stitches and that’s deemed a yellow card.

“Oli McBurnie goes over to say ‘He’s pulling my shirt’ - not swearing - and he gets booked. It’s deemed the same offence. We’ve got a player missing now. They just do not know what they’re doing and it’s nothing to do with the results. Both sets of players are frustrated, both sets of fans are frustrated. Why? Because the people directing the game haven’t got a clue about football. They do not know football.”

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