Manchester United fans believe that Brazilian midfielder Casemiro is being held to a higher standard and that he is being unfairly targeted after he received his second straight red card of the season against Southampton. There is a strong likelihood that the club will appeal, but, if that is unsuccessful, he faces a four game ban.
And that could yet have an impact on United’s chances of finishing in the Champions League places this season.
Sunday’s incident happened in the 34th minute of the match with Southampton at Old Trafford, who had gone into the match bottom of the table after their South Coast neighbours Bournemouth had surprisingly beaten Liverpool – the side who put seven past United last weekend – the previous day.
Casemiro went in for a challenge with Carlos Alcáraz, but, although he won the ball first, the studs of his right boot rolled over, and raked the shins of the Southampton player. Initially referee Anthony Taylor gave the Brazilian a yellow card, but was then instructed by the VAR official to take another look.
After reviewing the pitch-side monitor, Taylor reversed his initial decision and upgraded the card to a straight red.
A mortified Casemiro left the field close to tears, consoled by his team-mates and sharing a hug with Alcáraz.
Without him, his team battled for a scoreless draw in a game they were expected to win easily, and which they might have done so had they finished with eleven men on the pitch.
That was his second red card in a little more than a month, the Brazilian receiving another red card for his part in a mass brawl during United’s home defeat of Crystal Palace in early February.
On that occasion, players from both sides became involved in a physical confrontation after Palace’s Jeffrey Schlupp pushed winger Antony off the pitch. In the course of it, Casemiro grabbed Will Hughes around the neck and, again, after a VAR review, was shown a straight red for violent conduct.
As United manager Erik ten Hag was keen to point out, Casemiro does not have a poor disciplinary history. In ten years playing for Real Madrid, he was sent off twice, in both cases for two yellow cards. Prior to his arrival in England last summer, he had never received a straight red card in his career before, and now he has had two in the space of just 40 days.
Is he being singled out?
Some United fans believe that he is being singled out. They can claim with some justification that, in the Palace brawl, there were a number of players that crossed the line, but he was the only one to have received a red card.
And, as for Sunday’s incident, the Premier League has previously indicated that it wanted to encourage more physical contact this season, and Casemiro’s challenge did not appear to have any sinister intent behind it.
Proponents of the laws of the game might point out that, in the case of the clash with Hughes, he did have his hands round the neck of Hughes, which definitely counts as violent conduct. And, as for the challenge with Alcáraz, although he won the ball first, he was careless in his follow-through, and he could, on another day, have seriously injured his opponent, and potentially have broken his leg.
A straight red card carries an automatic three match ban, and the midfielder was already forced to miss three games after the Palace dismissal. However, for players who receive two red cards in a season, a tariff of an extra game is added on, meaning he is set to miss four games.
As things stand, he will be unavailable for next Sunday’s home game with Fulham in the FA Cup quarter-finals and, after the international break, Premier League matches away at Newcastle and Brentford and Everton both at home.
Will United appeal?
Manchester United have indicated that they are reviewing the incident before deciding whether to appeal. The risk they run is that, if the Premier League decides that it is frivolous, they could actually slap the player with an extra one match ban, extending it to five in all. And that would mean that the Brazilian could spend more than a fifth of his first season in English football suspended.
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