Let's get the Nani goal out of the way first.
I'm doing this from memory as I watched it on a stream and if there is anything that's not quite on the money with regards to the time-line of the incident and it's events, then talk up. That's the whole point of a discussion thread.
Okay, so here we go...
1) Nani in the box, Kaboul is pulling the red shirt down, and the United player decides he may as well give into gravity and tumble over. He handballs the ball after falling (diving). The ref doesn't award a penalty - which is contentious because they've been given for that sort of thing in the past - but equally so, you could argue he went to ground with relative ease. Would have been soft if it was awarded. Probably because Nani tried far too hard to con the ref when it wasn't necessary.
2) No matter if you think it was a pen, a dive or just a nothing incident - there was no indication from the ref or the lino at this juncture that the hand ball had been acknowledged by either of them. Was not a penalty for certain as far as the ref was concerned. And I don't remember that much of a protest from the United players who got on with the game.
3) Now this is where it gets a bit messy. The only certainty at this point is that Nani had blatantly and unequivocally handled the ball. So much so that the Spurs players - and especially Gomes - do not, for a single second, think that it is anything other than a stone cold free-kick. So much so, they take it for granted.
In fact, note the assistant referee at this stage of the incident. He doesn't raise his flag because he assumes Clattenburg - who witnessed the fall (dive) in the box and the handball - is taking control because of the obviousness. What I mean by control is - unquestionably making it clear it was a free kick. Except the ref doesn't make anything clear.
4) So, this far, we have a blatant handball, Clattenburg (as far as I could tell) was in clear sight. But either he didn't see it or did see, but either way - as the official - doesn't make it clear to anyone other than the voice in his head. The assistant ref (the lino), sees it but makes a mistake. He doesn't raise his flag and wave it about. Had he done so, Clattenburg would have been forced into using his arm and hands and voice to clearly state free-kick/play on/whatever - although a free kick would probably have been given due to the raising of the lino's flag. And everyone's mistake it to accept the obvious, i.e. a free-kick from a dead ball.
4) Gomes, dear innocent Gomes, places the ball down (having looked at Nani and shook his head at the player and then looked at the lino for confirmation which might have been given with a stare or again a telepathic assumption, which is hardly the basis you should accept). Again, another massive assumption in the belief that everybody on the pitch understand that Nani handled the ball.
And I'm certain everyone on the pitch did. Including Fletcher (I think it was) who shouted at Nani to drop back to defend. Everyone apart from Nani, who knew he had handled the ball and also knew the ref had not blown his whistle or made it abundantly clear what was meant to be going on. I think Clattenburg was running back to the half-way line at this point. Which begs the question, did he think Gomes was taking the free-kick or that the keeper was going to play advantage?
5) So Gomes places the ball down (twice) ten yards from the actual incident, then remonstrates with his players to get out of he box, and Nani looks around (did he ask permission from the ref or someone if it was okay to kick the ball?) and then kicks the ball under Gomes and in. Apologetic celebration, looking around at first, making sure it counted. Which it did. Which he accepted.
6) Everyone (in Lilywhite) goes a bit mental, Gomes running to the lino smacking his arm/hand, and the lino decides now is the best moment to be lifting his flag up and waves it for the attention of Mark. Clattenburg has already given a goal, but runs down to his assistant, listens to his assistant (who has already mouthed to Gomes 'I know' in response to 'handball') but alas...it's not disallowed.
Too much has happened. Clattenburg signals again, it's a goal. Two things here - the lino flagging when prompted by Gomes (why did he not do it when the hand ball happened so he can make sure the ref saw it so they could both be on the same page in terms of the flow of the game? Or do such incidents, where hand ball occur, always result with a free-kick, therefore, no need for communication? Well? Second thing worth mentioning; Pav flapping his arms like a chicken at the lino.
7) Also - you've got to laugh at our players being told to walk away from the lino whilst Rio is allowed to stand next to both Clattenburg and the lino and stick his oar in. Although if he talks like he tweets, there's a likelihood neither understood his complaining.
8) It's 2-0 and that's that.
9) If you look back (on my stream of the game) the goal was missed because they were showing a replay - so that makes it the linesman, the fans (me and everyone else watching it would seem), the players on both sides and the frigging television producers - all making the assumption it was a dead ball kick. Playing advantage only works when the keeper with the ball in his hands actually knows it's advantage - which the ref failed to do.
10) Therefore: No communication from Clattenburg. Nothing definitive. Other than the ref running up the pitch away from the box where the ball was. Would you run up the pitch if you (the ref) had decided that the ball was still in play? Why not remain close(r) to the action until you can work out what the keeper is going to do?
11) Can I mention the handball again? If the ref saw it, which he must of if he was playing 'advantage' - then why exactly? It's slack. Also, where was the yellow card for Nani? Or is it okay to dismiss it and just forgive and let us have advantage so no time is lost in our favour? And loop yourself back to 10 again.
12) Do you see how the ref is responsible for birthing this bastard United debauchery of balls? No matter laying blame on Gomes for not playing to the whistle, it's still comes down to a creation of a goal out of subtle yet chaotic mismanagement of an incident. I'll say it again: If you're going to not do the obvious ( award a free-kick, yellow card the player) at least signal it's advantage. If by not doing anything, its therefore advantage, then it allows for too much ambiguity.
Also - Did the ref whistle at any stage? If he did initally, then surely its a free-kick. If he didn't - then why the f*ck not?
Fact is Clattenburg should have either made it abundantly clear it was an advantage - regardless of 'play to the whistle'. Everyone (apart from Nani who was sulking on the ground because he didn't get a pen) run off down the pitch - it tells you they all thought it was a free-kick. Had Clattenburg awarded the free-kick. No controversy. Had Clattenburg signalled advantage, no controversy. There is remonstrating of Gomes to his players around the box that might hint at some type of confusion, I did notice that. But I think that had more to do with Gomes wanting to pass it out to one of them rather than booting it down the pitch.
I wish we lost 1-0, instead of having that second go in. Because people will talk about yet another injustice when the reality is, we didn't quite have it going on in the final third. It's almost like we can't just lose at Old Trafford, we have to lose and there has to be something ridiculous in there to mess with our minds.
Lesson for us is simply: Do not entrust in the officials, do not leave doubt and ambiguity in what plays out simply by playing to the whistle. Talk to the ref if you have to. Just don't make assumptions even though it was more than obvious it was hand ball and should have been a free-kick.
Should, should, should.
Ref f*cked up. No question about it. It's now two for Clattenburg (you haven't forgotten about the Mendes goal have you - the one that would have blipped this woeful 68 game run of no wins away to the monopoly). Oh Howard, at least your calamities were more straightforward.
Next season, let's save ourselves a journey up there and just default the game.
Next blog article - I will not refer to any of this and just talk about the actual performance and players. Don't want all this dizziness to get in the way of what really matters. The football. And our season.