Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder held clear-the-air talk after controversial defeat to Manchester City

Chris Wilder again expressed his frustration with VAR after watching Sheffield United’s long unbeaten run away from home come to an end in controversial circumstances following a 2-0 defeat at Manchester City.

Wednesday, 1st January 2020, 12:52 pm
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder (right) speaks with referee Chris Kavanagh after the final whistle during the Premier League match at The Etihad Stadium, Manchester. PA Photo. Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

The visitors saw an effort from Lys Mousset ruled-out for offside before Sergio Aguero opened the scoring for Pep Guardiola’s side, after referee Chris Kavanagh had impeded John Fleck as he prepared to take possession.

Wilder, who later watched Kevin De Bruyne seal City’s victory, felt both decisions were dubious and revealed Kavanagh had invited him to discuss them afterwards.

“In fairness, he took me into his office and was honest and open about what had happened,” the United manager said. “It was a private conversation and so I’ll keep it private. Whether or not the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) issue a statement later, I don’t know.”

Sign up to our Sheffield United newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“But you can put two and two together if you want,” Wilder, whose side are eighth ahead of Thursday’s trip to Liverpool, added.

Pep Guardiola, Wilder’s counterpart across the technical area, later acknowledged City would have found it “very difficult” to win had Mousset’s strike been allowed to stand. Although replays of the incident suggested VAR official Stuart Attwell’s call was marginal, Wilder was even more confused by the sight of play being allowed to continue when Kavanagh obstructed Fleck during the build-up to Aguero’s finish.

Reminding how play had been stopped in similar circumstances during one of United’s pre-season friendlies, Wilder said: “We all wondered what was happening at the time but that was the new rule that had been brought in.

“He (Kavanagh) is right in the mix of it. Does he affect play? Does he affect John Fleck?

“I’m not saying he should be invisible or floating about the place. But he did affect the game.”

United, suffering their first defeat on the road since January, could be without John Lundstram for their clash with Premier League leaders Liverpool. The former Everton midfielder missed the meeting with City due to an injury sustained against Watford 72 hours earlier.

“He tried to play on,” Wilder said. “Because that’s the attitude my lads have got. But he might have made it a bit worse because of that. We’ll see.”