LONDON－Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United is being negatively influenced by opposition managers referring to its penalty record after being denied a spot-kick in a 0-0 draw at Chelsea on Sunday.
United was furious that referee Stuart Attwell stuck to his original call not to award a penalty for handball by Callum Hudson-Odoi despite being asked to review the incident by VAR in the first half.
The Red Devils have been awarded 22 penalties in the Premier League since the start of last season, four more than any other club, which led Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and former Chelsea manager Frank Lampard to question why their sides failed to get the same treatment from officials.
“It’s all these outside influences. That’s influencing referees,” said an unusually irate Solskjaer.
“We’ve seen there is loads of talk about us getting penalties when there is no doubt about it and today we should’ve had a penalty, that’s clear.”
A draw does little for either side’s ambitions at the top of the Premier League.
Second-place United now trails runaway leader Manchester City by 12 points, while Chelsea remains a point outside the top four in fifth.
United’s poor record against traditional top-six opponents has prevented it maintaining a title challenge as it has now failed to win in seven league meetings with Chelsea, Arsenal, City, Liverpool and Tottenham.
Five of those games ended 0-0 and Solskjaer admitted his side needs to be more incisive.
“Defensively our attitude, application and pressing was brilliant. With the ball it wasn’t good enough,” said the Norwegian.
“We didn’t create the chances we hoped for. But if you get that penalty and win 1-0 that’s a perfect away performance.”
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel remains unbeaten in nine games since replacing the fired Lampard, but a lack of firepower that has been a problem in the German’s short reign so far was in evidence again for the Blues.
Solskjaer had given Mason Greenwood a start ahead of the out-of-sorts Anthony Martial and the young striker was involved in the most noteworthy incident as he and Hudson-Odoi vied for possession inside the Chelsea box.
Hudson-Odoi inadvertently caught the ball with his arm. However, Tuchel took a very different view of the incident, claiming Greenwood had handled the ball first.
“How can this be an intervention (by VAR)? The player in red plays the ball with the hand and then we are checking for a penalty,” he said.
“Why does the referee have to see this? He did everything right. I don’t understand why he needs to check it but I’m glad there is no penalty because that would be even worse.”
Edouard Mendy did well to save a Scott McTominay shot early in the second half and nervously parried a thunderous Fred strike in stoppage time.
But it was Chelsea which posed the bigger threat after the break.
Substitute Timo Werner stung David De Gea’s palms from long range before Victor Lindelof’s brilliant clearance denied the German international a tap-in from Reece James’ inviting cross.
Meanwhile, Klopp believes Liverpool can prove the doubters that have written their season off wrong after snapping a four-game Premier League losing streak to win 2-0 at Sheffield United on Sunday.
The Reds’ title defense has been badly affected by injuries and they face a battle just to qualify for next season’s Champions League via a top-four finish.
Klopp’s men remain in sixth, but are now just two points behind fourth-place West Ham and can leapfrog Chelsea in fifth when the Blues visit Anfield on Thursday.
“Plenty of people have written us off. That’s fine,” said Klopp. “With all the problems we have had, we’re still around the exciting places.”
Captain Jordan Henderson has been added to Liverpool’s long-term injury list, while goalkeeper Alisson Becker was absent after his father died in a swimming accident in Brazil last week.
But the Championship-bound Blades proved the perfect opponents for Klopp’s men to restore some confidence as Curtis Jones’ second-half strike and Kean Bryan’s own goal got Liverpool back to winning ways.
“This was about us showing we’re still there,” added Klopp.
“We play Chelsea on Thursday, we have to show it again. We have to win football games, we know that. There’s no way into the Champions League without results.”