It has not taken long for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to start employing his old manager’s mind games.
Sir Alex Ferguson was the master at using the media to get a message out — be that to the opposition or referees.
I have seen Solskjaer’s comments about City using tactical fouls to disrupt play when they lose possession, and he has a point. They break at such speed and are so expansive that they are left exposed when they lose the ball.
City midfielder Fernandinho, in particular, is guilty of these cynical fouls. But then so are all teams in certain situations. Look at United — Nemanja Matic is similar to Fernandinho in that he breaks up play through whatever means he can, that’s his job.
As a referee you are aware of this but you will ignore the pre-match comments, they have no bearing on how you handle the game.
As for Manchester derbies, I always found them easier to referee than a Liverpool v United fixture, which has a more intense hatred to it.
There was more respect during United v City. The atmosphere at Old Trafford is often a little subdued as well, and I found that helped me to keep control.
Adapted from Daily Mail UK
Award winning journalist and writer who has worked as a stringer for a couple of acclaimed South Africa based German journalists, covered 3 Ugandan elections, 2008 Kenya election crisis, with interests in business and sports reporting.