Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Tryone Mings could face three-match ban
Manchester United’s top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Bournemouth’s Tyrone Mings are both facing three-match bans after their personal battle at Old Trafford turned ugly on Saturday.
Mings appeared to stamp on Ibrahimovic’s head as he lay on the floor following a challenge at the end of the first half.
From a corner moments later, United’s Swedish superstar caught his opponent on the side of the head with his elbow, leaving him groggy and requiring treatment for several minutes afterwards.
Neither player was punished by referee Kevin Friend for their unsavoury behaviour in a 1-1 draw that also saw Ibrahimovic miss a penalty, but The FA are now likely to review video evidence and bring charges.
Ibrahimovic could miss next Monday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Chelsea and Premier League games with West Brom and Middlesbrough as a result.
United captain Wayne Rooney went on television within minutes of the final whistle to lay the blame on Mings.
‘I don’t think the referee saw him try and stamp on Zlatan’s head. I was right there,’ said Rooney.
‘Everyone likes to go in and tackle but to try and stamp on a player’s head is wrong in football.
‘There’s no place for that and I am sure The FA will look at it and there will be a punishment.’
However, Mourinho knows it will be politically impossible for Mings to be punished without his 26-goal talisman also being brought to book, and he made a plea for both incidents to be brushed away.
‘Zlatan is a big man like I am. We’ve spent too many years in football. We are not the kind of generation that goes to the media and cries about what happens like ‘Oh, that guy has pushed me’,’ said Mourinho.
‘We are that generation of street football and football for the big guys. What happened, happened. The game is over and what matters is the result.’
Not surprisingly, both protagonists proclaimed their innocence.
Mings said about the alleged stamp: ‘I would never do that. It’s not in my game. Hard and fair is how I tackle, but off the ball is not part of my game.
‘Ibrahimovic is who he is. There was a battle and there was an elbow – I didn’t see it but I felt it. He’s a physical guy and it was a good battle.’
Zlatan responded: ‘You have the TV, you can see the images. I jump up and jump high and he jumps into my elbow.’
‘Listen, what happens on the field stays on the field. I’m not someone who attacks someone off the field. I went for the ball and it was unlucky he jumped into my elbow. But it was nothing on purpose. I hope he’s not injured. I didn’t know about the stamping on the head; if it was him it was him.’
The sense of farce increased when Mr Friend gave a second yellow card to Bournemouth’s Andrew Surman for the relatively minor offence of gently pushing Ibrahimovic in the aftermath.
It then took more than two minutes and a message through his headphones for Mr Friend to realise it Surman had been booked earlier in the match and should be sent off.
On television, pundit Jamie Carragher felt both Mings and Ibrahimovic should have been given red cards.
‘The one from Mings is horrific. And he deserves a smack for that. It’s disgraceful. Stamping on someone’s head on the floor – it’s a disgrace,’ he said.
‘And why is he talking to Zlatan Ibrahimovic (after the elbow)? He’s either seen it and bottled it or he hasn’t seen it. What was he talking about? I think he’s panicked, bottled it – and frozen.’
Bournemouth’s assistant-manager Jason Tindall was sent to the stands at half-time for protesting Surman’s dismissal.
The result leaves United stuck in sixth place despite a 17-game unbeaten run in the league.
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