Marco Silva hopes Aleksandar Mitrovic avoids lengthy suspension following FA Cup meltdown
Marco Silva does not expect Aleksandar Mitrovic to be handed a lengthy suspension after the striker tried to grab referee Chris Kavanagh during a five-minute madness that cost Fulham a chance to reach the FA Cup semi-finals.
Fulham were leading Manchester United 1-0 in the last eight at Old Trafford with just over 20 minutes to go when Willian blocked a prolific Jadon Sancho shot on the line with his arm.
Kavanagh initially signaled a corner but was sent on-screen by VAR Neil Swarbrick where he fired a protesting Silva.
After the inevitable penalty decision and a red card for Willian, Fulham goalscorer Mitrovic raged at Kavanagh and tried to pull his arm back – with just 40 seconds between the three sending-offs.
United punished Fulham’s collapse when Bruno Fernandes scored from the penalty spot two minutes before Marcel Sabitzer’s first United goal and Fernandes completed the 3-1 victory in added time.
Fulham’s loss of discipline could now hamper their attempt to reach Europe via the Premier League, with suspensions sure to follow, but Silva doesn’t expect anything out of the ordinary for Mitrovic, despite pictures of him grabbing Kavanagh, a referee Fulham are already struggling with these Season.
Paolo Di Canio was banned for 11 games in 1998 for knocking down Paul Alcock, but Mitrovic’s grab was far less dramatic.
“I don’t think so,” said Silva about a possible long suspension. “Of course I saw the picture and already spoke to Mitro. It’s a moment for him to control emotions.
“Obviously he pushed the referee but I didn’t think that was as bad as you say so I hope the people who are going to decide decide with the fairness the moment deserves.”
Silva’s ability to lecture on discipline was limited as he was the first to see red, for which he apologized in the dressing room, but he continued to complain about Kavanagh after the game.
At Old Trafford, Fulham had wanted two first-half penalties, both with Mitrovic feeling nudged early on by Luke Shaw, before tussling with Lisandro Martinez shortly after.
But the grievances continue to date back to the 3-1 defeat at West Ham in October, when Fulham felt two of the Hammers’ goals involved handballs, and to Fulham’s 2-0 FA Cup win over Leeds in a soft foul last month when Kavanagh ruled out a Fulham goal.
Silva added: “Our history with Chris Kavanagh this season has been really tough as a football club. We didn’t say anything to the players before the game, it’s FA Cup Quarterfinals, let’s try our best to reach FA Cup Semifinals.
“That was our goal and I think we showed that in 75 minutes but they also know he was the referee for that game at West Ham when we lost by two clear handball goals, it was Chris Kavanagh at that moment . This afternoon everyone saw what happened…
“Of course we should control emotions in all moments, but we are human.”
While Fulham tally up the costs, United are set to take on Brighton at Wembley in hopes of lifting the FA Cup for a 13th time and adding it to the League Cup won last month.
United were second best in terms of match record before the penalty incident and while Erik ten Hag was happy with the result he knows his side can play better.
“I’m happy and satisfied with the performance but I see a lot of room for improvement,” he said. “The ball was an example today, we have to show more composure, recognize where the overload is, use this overload.
“There were some good examples today in attacking changes that we can definitely do better.”