Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish admits referees have ‘a difficult job’

Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish admits referees are under huge pressure after Mark Halsey awarded Manchester United a controversial penalty on Sunday

Alex McLeish has admitted referees have “a difficult job” after Mark Halsey awarded Manchester United a dubious penalty against Aston Villa at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Ashley Young, who won a spot-kick against Queens Park Rangers last week, was adjudged to have been fouled by Ciaran Clark, providing Wayne Rooney with the opportunity to put the Red Devils ahead in the seventh minute.

The defending Premier League champions went on to secure three points with Danny Welbeck netting just before half-time before Rooney scored his second, and Nani added a fourth on the stroke of full-time.

“I didn’t think it was a penalty,” said McLeish.

“I thought Ashley Young threw his leg into Ciaran Clark’s leg. Ciaran was static and he had planted his feet firmly in the ground, and in actual fact, when I’ve seen the replay, he’s actually tried to pull his leg away.

“So I don’t think it was a penalty – some other people may look at it and disagree. I certainly felt it was a very soft decision.”

Villa were on the end of another poor refereeing decision last week after Samir Carruthers was booked for diving with the scores level at 1-1 despite Liverpool defender Daniel Agger catching the 19-year-old on the ankle.

“It’s so difficult for referees,” he added.

“It happens so fast. We had a young player at Liverpool last week who stepped inside Daniel Agger and he was caught on the ankle and it should have been a penalty, but instead the kid was booked.

“It’s hard to say to the referee you got it wrong. It’s a difficult job.”

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