Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder declared himself “completely confused” as he bemoaned calls made by officials in his team’s 1-0 loss at Aston Villa.
Wilder claimed “poor decisions” had gone against the Blades at Villa Park, where Ezri Konsa headed home a 63rd-minute winner.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men in the 12th minute when skipper John Egan was given a straight red card by referee Graham Scott, having tussled with Ollie Watkins and been judged to have denied the striker a goal-scoring opportunity.
Wilder felt there should not have been a red card on that occasion, and that one should have been shown to Villa’s Matt Targett – instead of a yellow – when his tackle on Chris Basham resulted in Sheffield United being awarded a 36th-minute penalty. In both cases, the incidents had a VAR check.
The spot-kick was taken by John Lundstram, who saw his effort saved by Emiliano Martinez.
Wilder said: “In my opinion we were on the receiving end of two poor decisions.
“For me, both (Egan and Watkins) were having a tussle with each other. I just don’t understand why that decision was a straight red.
“When I look back on both the situations, I don’t think the correct decision was given.
“There’s no way in a million years Matt Targett can wrap his leg round and make an attempt to play the ball, so he impedes our player who is about to tap it in, it’s a goal-scoring chance denied, and it’s a red card. Even if we miss the penalty, it’s still 10 v 10, which has a huge effect on the game.
“Maybe I need to go on a referee’s course. I think we all need to because there is so much confusion about stuff like this.”
Wilder, whose side were famously denied by a goal line technology failure on their previous visit to Villa Park, added: “You just (want) the consistency and the right decisions, and certainly on our last two visits, we’ve not got that.
“I’m completely confused. Having been a professional player and manager for the past 34, 35 years, I’m at my most confused in terms of how the game is and the decisions that are getting made.
“I was confused over the weekend watching some of the handballs, and I am even more confused tonight.”
Having seen his side make a winning start to their Premier League campaign, Villa boss Dean Smith was full of praise for debutant Martinez, the recent signing from Arsenal, and defender Konsa.
“He (Martinez) did what he had to do tonight – he was calm on the ball, he made a really good save for the penalty. Certainly he is a good signing for us, we believe.
“Ezri Konsa was outstanding tonight. We’re doing a lot better defensively. There was signs of rustiness tonight, but I thought we were worthy winners.”