Dean Smith slams ‘pathetic’ call to award Manchester United a penalty after challenge on Paul Pogba

Dean Smith slams ‘pathetic’ decision to award Manchester United a penalty after a challenge on Paul Pogba – with Aston Villa boss insisting he is ‘fed up’ of discussing Red Devils spot-kicks

  • Smith’s Villa side took the lead in the first half through winger Bertrand Traore 
  • United equalised via Bruno Fernandes after Chris Kavanagh awarded a penalty
  • The visitors went on to win 3-1, but Smith was again unhappy with the officials 

Dean Smith hit out at the ‘pathetic decision’ to award Manchester United a penalty for Douglas Luiz’s challenge on Paul Pogba at Villa Park on Sunday.

The same two players were involved in an incident that led to Bruno Fernandes scoring United’s winner from the spot at Old Trafford in January.

Fernandes also converted a penalty at Villa Park last season when he was fouled by Ezri Konsa.

Aston Villa’s Dean Smith has slammed the ‘pathetic’ decision to award a penalty to Paul Pogba

The Manchester United midfielder was adjudged to have been caught by Villa's Douglas Luiz

The Manchester United midfielder was adjudged to have been caught by Villa’s Douglas Luiz

Bruno Fernandes scored the spot-kick to equalise, and United went on to beat Smith's side 3-1

Bruno Fernandes scored the spot-kick to equalise, and United went on to beat Smith’s side 3-1

Former referee Mark Clattenburg: My verdict

Come off it Dean, it’s a clear penalty! 

The penalty was an absolute gift for Manchester United from Douglas Luiz. Paul Pogba had his back to the Aston Villa goal and was going nowhere. 

Yet Luiz committed his challenge from behind, right in front of referee Chris Kavanagh, and didn’t get the ball.

You could see from the reaction of the Villa players that they knew Luiz had made a mistake.

Pogba had been clever in getting his body between his opponent and the ball. The Frenchman then felt the tackle come into the back of him.

He went down, Kavanagh pointed to the spot and United had been gifted a route back into the game. 

And the Portuguese scored a spot kick for the third time against Villa on Sunday to make it 1-1.

Villa manager Smith felt Pogba went down far too easily again to sway referee Chris Kavanagh’s decision, which was confirmed by VAR.

‘I’m fed up with talking about penalty decisions against Man United,’ said Smith. ‘Paul Pogba tripped himself up at Old Trafford and it’s another soft pen today. Douglas Luiz shouldn’t have planted a foot or given him the opportunity to go down.

‘But it looked a pathetic decision to me. Was that enough for him to go down? No. But he goes down, similar at Old Trafford, similar last season here, and I said that before the game.

‘Everybody’s confused that Raheem Sterling can go through last night (for Manchester City against Chelsea), have four of five touches on his backside, go down and not get a penalty.

‘Then there’s one touch and we go down and it’s a penalty (for Pogba). The whole of the football world is confused at the moment.’

Smith also criticised the decision to show Villa striker Ollie Watkins a second yellow card for diving after he went down under goalkeeper Dean Henderson’s challenge late in the game.

‘There’s no way the referee can tell me that he’s convinced he (Watkins) hasn’t been touched,’ added the Villa manager. 

And the frustrated Villa boss (above) blasted the officials after the match for their decision

And the frustrated Villa boss (above) blasted the officials after the match for their decision

‘I just don’t understand the decision-making of the officials at the moment and, more important, Stockley Park when they’re actually looking at it slowly. It looks like now he’s going to have to get hurt to win the penalty. 

‘He touches it past the goalkeeper. Is there enough contact for Ollie to go down? No. But like I said, there wasn’t enough for Pogba to go down.’

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he doesn’t expect Manchester City to slip up in the title race but was happy to see his team secure a Champions League place ahead of this week’s games against Leicester and Liverpool.

‘It’s a massive result,’ said Solskjaer. ‘It takes a little bit of the pressure away.’  

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Aston Villa boss Dean Smith expects home advantage to return when fans are back in the ground

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith expects home advantage to return when fans are back in the ground ahead of his side’s clash with Manchester United who are unbeaten away this campaign

  • Aston Villa have won more games away than at Villa Park so far this season 
  • Their opponents have gone the season unbeaten away from Old Trafford
  • Dean Smith expects home advantage to return when fans are in the grounds
  • He has also confirmed they hope to keep goalkeeper Tom Heaton next season 

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith believes the traditional concept of home advantage will return next season when fans are back in the stadium.

Villa have won only six times at their own ground this season compared to eight away victories and it’s a pattern repeated throughout the league with today’s opponents Manchester United unbeaten away despite losing four times at Old Trafford. Only three previous teams have been unbeaten away through a top-flight season – Preston (1889) and Arsenal (2002 and 2004).

‘This season has been like other. There is a neutrality of every venue,’ said Smith. ‘As much as we want to make Villa Park our home, without supporters in it’s not.

Aston Villa have won more games away than at Villa Park in the Premier League this season

Dean Smith says he expects home advantage will return when fans are back in the grounds

Dean Smith says he expects home advantage will return when fans are back in the grounds

‘It’s the same elsewhere. For example, I certainly believe Sheffield United have suffered an awful lot not having fans in their stadium. That has been seen across the board.

‘Once the fans are in, it’ll change. I have been there as a fan sucking the ball into the Holte End. I know how important it can be.’

Before this weekend’s fixtures there had been 126 away wins in the Premier League this season compared to 120 at home – the first time there has ever been that imbalance.

Smith will be hoping for better luck with VAR today than their last meeting against United when Bruno Fernandes scored the opening goal from the penalty spot after appearing to trip himself up when challenged by Ezri Konsa.

‘We have had two poor decisions go against us with United and I think they cost us results,’ he said. ‘In the last game, we’d just hit the post when they got the first goal from a very disputed penalty before they ended up battering us 3-0.’

Villa’s No2 goalkeeper Tom Heaton has been linked with a move back to United where he started his career but Smith confirmed his club are in talks to try and keep him.

Manchester United could become the first team since 2004 to go a season unbeaten away from home

Manchester United could become the first team since 2004 to go a season unbeaten away from home

‘Tom’s contract is up at the end of the season and our sporting director is dealing with that at the moment,’ said Smith.

‘I give my feelings to the board about the players and then they go and deal with that. 

‘Tom won’t want to be seen as a number two. It is a challenge we have at the club because we have two high-class goalkeepers. Emi Martinez also wants to play every game.’

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Aston Villa boss Dean Smith heaps praise on ‘outstanding’ Ollie Watkins

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith heaps praise on ‘outstanding’ Ollie Watkins after his goal in victory at Everton… as Martin Keown backs the in-form striker to win a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the Euros

  • Dean Smith is delighted with Ollie Watkins and his progress for Aston Villa
  • The newly-capped England international opened the scoring against Everton
  • Martin Keown said he would take him as part of Gareth Southgate’s Euros squad 

Aston Villa head coach Dean Smith is delighted with the progress striker Ollie Watkins has made this season and felt his performance in the 2-1 victory at Everton was one of his best.

The newly-capped England international’s 15th club goal of the season was cancelled out by Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s 20th of the campaign in the first half.

But Anwar El Ghazi scored for the second successive match with a brilliant curling effort 10 minutes from time as Villa won at Goodison Park for the first time since 2008.

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith hailed ‘outstanding’ Ollie Watkins after his goal at Everton

The newly-capped England international's 15th club goal of the season put Villa ahead

The newly-capped England international’s 15th club goal of the season put Villa ahead

‘I thought he was good tonight and difficult to handle. It’s what we paid a lot of money for,’ Smith said of the decision to sign Watkins from Brentford in the summer for £28million.

‘I knew what he was and what he was like as a person and how he wanted to grow and get better. I thought he was outstanding tonight.

‘He pick-pocketed the defender (Mason Holgate) well to score his goal and I thought Jordan Pickford regained parity with some of the saves against him.

‘I think his game has got better. I’ve always said he is one of the best pressing centre-forwards in the Premier League, which is huge praise indeed. He is backing that up with goals.

‘He is a lad who used to beat himself up a lot if he missed chances but he gets over that a lot quicker now and that’s a sign of a really hungry and top young player.’  

Martin Keown claimed he would take both Watkins and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (C) to the Euros

Martin Keown claimed he would take both Watkins and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (C) to the Euros

Speaking about Watkins after the game, BT Sport pundit Martin Keown said: ‘He [Watkins] unsettled Everton’s defence and has real pace and energy.

‘Right from the beginning you see he wants it. He’s fired up. He’s got Dominic Calvet-Lewin on pitch and came out on top against him.

‘He exploited space, dictated the game and was a willing runner. It was naive from Everton but his intelligence was outstanding and his form is coming just at the right time for England and Aston Villa. 

‘I would take Calvert-Lewin and Watkins to the Euros as you’ve now got 26 players and it gives Southgate chances, too.’

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