Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s response when asked about Jurgen Klopp’s jibe about Manchester United’s penalty record was indicative of Manchester United’s current position in the Premier League table.
“And that’s a fact,” he responded when asked about Klopp’s comment stating that United have won more penalties than Liverpool in Solskjaer’s shorter spell than his in the Anfield dugout.
Solskjaer couldn’t help but crack a smile as he referenced Rafael Benitez’s infamous rant from the Spaniard’s time battling the great Sir Alex Ferguson during an unsuccessful Premier League title bid.
Klopp isn’t the only manager to question United’s tendency to receive penalties with Chelsea manager Frank Lampard suggesting VAR helped United back in July while Jose Mourinho continues to aim digs at Bruno Fernandes for scoring a chunk of his goals for the club from 12 yards.
Back in July, we took a look at the penalties United won last season to see whether the referee made the right calls. The Reds have won 11 penalties in all competitions this season so we’ve took a closer look at each incident to settle this debate.
1. Juan Mata vs Luton Town (September 22, 2020)
United’s first penalty of the season came in the Carabao Cup against lower league side Luton Town. In the first-half, Brandon Williams received the ball and broke into the Luton penalty area. He was downed by George Moncur whose complaints were muted to the referee. With Fernandes rested, Juan Mata dispatched the penalty.
2. Bruno Fernandes vs Brighton (September 26, 2020)
The first penalty of the Premier League season was probably one of the most controversial in recent history. With the score level, United pushed for a winner with Harry Maguire aiming a header at goal which was blocked by Neal Maupay in the 97th minute. The referee blew the full-time whistle but a VAR review of the incident rightly awarded a penalty for a handball from the striker. Fernandes scored with the final kick of the game to earn three points.
3. Bruno Fernandes vs Tottenham (October 4, 2020)
Fernandes’ penalty after just two minutes against Tottenham at Old Trafford in October looked to have set the tone for a victory against Mourinho’s men, however, it proved to be little more than a consolation in a humiliating 6-1 defeat that saw Solskjaer’s future plunged into doubt. There was no doubt about the penalty decision, though, as Davidson Sanchez was penalised for a sloppy challenge on Anthony Martial.
4. Bruno Fernandes vs Newcastle (October 17, 2020)
United went behind against Newcastle after Matt Ritchie’s cross was deflected past David de Gea by Luke Shaw. Maguire equalised from a corner and United had the chance to take the lead after being awarded a penalty. Marcus Rashford darted into the area and went to ground. Referee Craig Pawson did not award a penalty but was advised by VAR to check the incident again on the pitch side monitor and changed his decision. Replays show Jamal Lewis make contact but it could be argued Rashford was already going to ground. It was the first penalty missed by Fernandes in the league this season.
5. Bruno Fernandes vs Paris Saint-Germain (October 20, 2020)
In a crucial Champions League group stage game against PSG, United were awarded a penalty at the Parc des Princes after just 19 minutes. Martial received the ball to feet and spun defender Abdou Diallo before going to ground. The defender was furious a penalty was awarded but it was poor defending. Martial exaggerated the foul and although it was soft, it was still a penalty. Fernandes missed his first attempt but replays showed Navas off his line. He scored his second try.
6. Anthony Martial vs RB Leipzig (October 28, 2020)
Against RB Leipzig, it was Martial again who was downed in the box. United had a comfortable 3-0 lead at the time and it was a poor challenge from Marcel Sabitzer. It was a clear attempt to win the ball from the Austrian but he timed his tackle wrong, made no contact and clearly downed Martial. The Frenchman was given the penalty by Fernandes and ended his short goal drought.
7. Bruno Fernandes vs West Brom (November 21, 2020)
In a tightly contested fixture against West Brom, United scored what would prove to be the only goal of the game thanks to a Fernandes penalty in the second-half. Again, Fernandes missed his initial strike but former Red Sam Johnstone was off his line. Juan Mata’s cross was blocked by the hand of Darnell Furlong. The handball rule is as clear as mud this season but it’s undeniable his arm was away from his side and shoulder height.
8. Marcus Rashford vs Istanbul Basaksehir (November 24, 2020)
Fernandes could have netted a hat-trick against Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League but allowed Rashford to take the spot-kick he earned. The forward was bundled over by defender Boli Bolingoli and referee Ovidui Hategan pointed straight the spot. The England international showcased some clever play to position his body across the defender and invite the contact. It was a challenge the defender didn’t need to make but did.
9. Bruno Fernandes vs RB Leipzig (December 8, 2020)
Fernandes’ penalty sparked a late comeback against Leipzig as United unsuccessfully attempted to rescue their Champions League campaign. Mason Greenwood was downed after Ibrahima Konate tussled for the ball. A penalty was awarded much to his dismay. Konate responded to accusations that Greenwood dived with a cryptic message. Greenwood does seem to step across the defender but you’ve seen them given.
10. Bruno Fernandes vs Leeds (December 20, 2020)
The three points were already secured for United but Solskjaer’s side looked to add insult to injury against their old rivals. Fernandes slipped in Martial who linked the play with Rashford. Martial received the ball again and showcased some clever play to win a spot kick. The forward chipped the ball over Pascal Struijk who made a clumsy challenge.