Here are the worst refereeing decisions ever given against Manchester United.

Amid a sea of controversial decisions so far in the 23/24 season, it’s important to remember that United have faced a lot worse.

Alejandro Garnacho‘s disallowed goal against Arsenal was a kick in the teeth for United, but it hasn’t necessarily changed the course of an entire season.

Sometimes the referees get it completely wrong, which has massively affected the trajectory of Manchester United‘s history. So, with this here are the worst refereeing decisions ever given against the Red Devils…

Photo credit should read ANDREW YATES/AFP via Getty Images

Nani Red Card vs Real Madrid 2012/13

We’ll start off with the one that sticks in everyone’s mind – it’s Nani’s red card against Madrid.

After a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu, United welcomed Madrid to Old Trafford in a last-16 match that will be remembered by fans for one major unjustified call.

After a Sergio Ramos own goal, Manchester United were on their way to quarter-final qualification, before referee Cuneyt Cakir sent Nani off following a high foot that didn’t even make contact with Alvaro Arbeloa.

The decision completely changed the trajectory of the match, and Jose Mourinho‘s side went on to score two goals, thus knocking the Red Devils out of the competition.

Darren Fletcher Red Card vs Arsenal 2008/09

Another Champions League injustice next, which had huge consequences as meant the Scotsman wasn’t available for the final in Barcelona – it’s Darren Fletcher‘s red card against Arsenal.

In a heated all-English Champions League semi-final second leg, United emerged 3-1 victors, but a huge dampener on the night was a ridiculously soft red card for United’s midfielder.

Fletcher received a red after he seemingly brought down Cesc Fabregas in the box, resulting in a penalty. However, replays clearly showed that Fletcher made a great challenge, and was sent off rather unjustly.

The worst thing was, United were 3-0 up on the night, and 4-0 on aggregate. It made it even more frustrating.

The red card meant Fletcher missed the infamous ‘Lionel Messi’ final of 2009, which could have been a much different result if we had the Scottish workhorse in midfield.

Didier Drogba Offside vs Manchester United 2009/10

A game that ultimately decided where the title would end up, involved one of the worst offside decisions ever given against the Red Devils.

It was pretty much neck and neck in the title race when Chelsea came to town back in 2010. Joe Cole opened the scoring in the first half with a backheel.

It was a tepid performance from United, but they were always in the game, that was until Drogba entered the frame.

His blatantly offside goal to put Chelsea two to the good saw the Blues take top spot, which led to the eventual Premier League title for Carlo Ancelotti.

Paul Scholes Offside vs Porto 2003/04

This decision was huge, not just for Manchester United – but for football as a whole.

United were 1-0 up in a Champions League tie against Mourinho’s Porto, thanks to a Paul Scholes header. This made it 1-1 on aggregate, with Porto emerging victorious in the home leg.

United were to make it 2-0 on the night, thanks to a Paul Scholes goal… or so they thought. Evidently onside, the Ginger Prince poked the ball home, but the linesman flagged for offside.

This would have brought the game into extra time given the goal Porto then scored, or may have meant the Portuguese side didn’t score at all. This may not have made Mourinho the manager he is today, with his side winning the entire competition.

Jamie Vardy Dive vs Manchester United 2014/15

Before Jamie Vardy became a ‘household name’, he was well known by United fans, for his deceitful cheating which led to a Rafael Da Silva red card and a penalty to Leicester – where they eventually won the game 5-3.

United were actually cruising in this tie. They found themselves 3-1 up against the newly promoted side, that was until the moment that turned the tide of the game.

First Vardy fouled Rafael outside the penalty area, then ran into the box and dived to give the Brazilian his marching orders. 

Leicester then went on to take control and won the game 5-3. However, it was branded as a ‘fairytale story’, but really it was dictated by a moment of sheer deception.

Rafael Da Silva Red Card vs Bayern Munich 2009/10

We’ve probably saved the worst till last, and it involves the little Brazilian once again.

United’s full-back was given a second yellow card early in the second half after pulling back Bayern’s Franck Ribéry – but both were exceptionally soft.

At that stage, the score was 3-1, but with the extra man the German side took initiative and an Arjen Robben volley was enough to send United out of Europe on away goals.

This one felt horrendous, as United had complete control against the German giants. The dismissal shook Old Trafford and was definitely the reason why Sir Alex Ferguson‘s side went crashing out.

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