Heckingbottom slams referees in epic rant after Sheffield United lose at Spurs

Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom launched an epic attack on officials after his side lost 2-1 at Tottenham on Saturday, suggesting that they told him how his side should play to avoid punishment.

There was a seriously dramatic finale in north London as Spurs scored twice in injury time to come from behind and beat the Blades 2-1.

The goals from Richarlison and Dejan Kulusevski came in the 98th and 100th minutes, with United’s Oli McBurnie then sent off in the 114th minute.

Heckingbottom was left fuming, but claimed that the result had nothing to do with his anger, slamming the new focus on clamping down on time-wasting this season.

The former Barnsley boss said that he was even told to play long from goal-kicks because their preferred choice of playing out from the goalkeeper was taking too long.

‘Something needs to be done now,’ raged Heckingbottom. ‘The referees are killing the game, absolutely ruining it. This is not me moaning about the result. I said it at half-time and when we were 1-0 up as well.’

He told Sky Sports: ‘The officiating is appalling. It’s not about the football decisions, just game management. My worry is that all the focus is on the yellow cards, time-wasting, the new guidelines.

‘The focus all of a sudden comes onto time-wasting, so they’re dictating how we play. If you play to take goal kicks from the back, you set up one way, and if Spurs go against that, that dictates the decision you make.

‘We’re getting told to just play long – you can’t do it. Wes [Foderingham] got booked for handling outside the box and then you’re threatening him with another yellow [for dissent], you just can’t do it.

‘When I speak to the referees, they haven’t got a clue what I’m talking about. They’re officiating our games at the top level, and they simply do not know the game. We need to sort that, and sort it quick. It ruined the spectacle.’

The complaints did not end there, saying it is ‘sad’ what is happening to football, as he sympathised with McBurnie for getting a second yellow card late on.

‘You see all the frustration,’ he said. ‘Both teams, both sides, both teams taking the mickey out of the ref and to sum it all up, we get Ollie McBurnie sent off for telling the referee someone’s pulling his shirt.

‘We’ve just seen someone turning their back, jumping into our goalkeeper, leading with an elbow, he needs stitches – and that’s deemed the same offence. What’s going on with our game?

‘This is irrespective of our performance, of our game. I would’ve said the same things at 0-0 or when we were 1-0 up.

‘My worry is where we’re taking our game, and I say this when I speak to Howard [Webb]. The people who don’t know anything about football are directing which way the game goes, and it’s sad. That was sad today.’

McBurnie tweeted after the match: ‘Not even allowed to speak to referees these days but certain teams/players allowed to run up to them multiple times in a game with no problems.’

Not even allowed to speak to referees these days but certain teams/players allowed to run up to them multiple times in a game with no problems 🤷🏼

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