The Championship strugglers threw their toys out of the pram after accusing ref Mike Riley of making THREE massive howlers which helped Manchester United to a 3-0 victory at St Mary’s, claiming Riley should not have sent off striker Matt Paterson, that Danny Welbeck was offside before he scored United’s opener and that a penalty for handball was wrongly given against David McGoldrick.
Poortvliet rapped: “The referee is always a help for the top teams. Too many decisions went against us, you need neutral people. Alex Ferguson got out of his seat once in the first half and, from that point on, every decision went their way. No one knows my players so they get no protection from referees especially when they are playing against big stars. I was disappointed during the game by the decisions and I still am after watching the replays on television. With the red card the boy made a tackle on the ball with one foot — not two as I was told. I know the boy well and it was a normal tackle. Even playing with 11 players it is very difficult playing against Manchester United. With 10 it is more difficult. It wasn’t a red card, then the first goal was offside and it was never a penalty for the second goal, either.”
United boss Alex Ferguson hit back by claiming the Saints striker deserved to be sent off for his lunge on Nemanja Vidic. But then he insisted Riley could have handled the situation better.
Unusually, Fergie admitted his side got a lucky break with the harsh penalty decision — awarded against McGoldrick as Nani blasted a 20-yard free-kick into the wall. Nani converted from the spot before sub Darron Gibson capped things off at the end.
Fergie said: “I think the ref could have booked the boy in the first minute to calm him down. He was just a bit over enthusiastic but it was a rash challenge and he didn’t give him any option. If he’d have booked him for his challenge on Jonny Evans in the first minute it would have calmed him down. But for me it was a red card, it was high and the right decision. I can't make my mind up on the penalty. I'm not too sure. It may have glanced his head."
And, despite admitting his side were well beaten, Poortvliet’s claims could still land the raging Dutchman in hot water with the FA.
He added: “United showed us how to play football today but after the red card it wasn’t a real game any more. It’s sad for the fans and also a pity for my players because I think they deserved more than that. Normally you should have a game until the end but after the first goal and the sending off it was difficult to stay in the game. The heads went down after the penalty. They tried but not with the confidence of before. Normally I never have a reaction to the referee but believe me this year they are not in favour of my team. It is part of the game to make mistakes but in a big game like this for us it had something to do with my boys being unknown. You need the decisions to be the same for both sides and that’s what I missed today.” Saints skipper Kelvin Davis said: “Matt was distraught afterwards and apologised to the guys. I feel so sorry for him because he tried to win the ball and didn’t deserve to be sent off. But he’s only a young lad and will learn from this.”
Now Ferguson is hoping his side can go all the way adding: “We’re in the fourth round and a home draw is all you can ask for. We had Spurs last year and we beat them so it’s a good draw for us.”