In the FA Cup quarter final between Manchester United and Arsenal (Gunners winning 2-1) it was Michael Oliver, the referee, who stole the spotlight with his excellent officiating and consistent punishment to those trying to cheat through diving, like Angel di Maria and Adnan Januzaj.
Maybe this is another part of the long painful, frustrating hangover Manchester United are going through, waking up as a lackluster team trying to find a way back to the days of Alex Ferguson. They’ve certainly thrown enough money at the problem. They’ve changed managers as well. Something isn’t working.
They didn’t play well and lost to a better Arsenal side, winning at Old Trafford for the first time since 2006. Arsenal took the lead through Nacho Monreal in the 25th minute but a brilliant cross from Di Maria found Wayne Rooney four minutes later, equalizing.
It was an awful mistake by Antonio Valencia that allowed former Manchester United player Danny Welbeck to beat David de Gea, not a simple task these days, with the goal that eventually put Arsenal through.
But the memorable part came later. Angel di Maria dove at the slightest touch on his hand from Aaron Ramsey, falling outside the box. After showing his stunned face for getting booked by Oliver, Di Maria pulled the referee from behind. Wayne Rooney didn’t push him back in time, and the Argentine was sent off, leaving moe questions about the price Manchester United paid for him earlier this season.
A few minutes alter, and it’s as if nothing crossed over to the Manchester United players. Januzaj, a notorious diver of the highest quality simply took an embarrassing dive into the box as if he was competing in some Olympic event. He was booked as well, despite his protesting to hide the shame of the thing he is most famous for.