Roberto De Zerbi said he does not like “80% of Premier League referees” after 10-man Brighton were held to a 1-1 draw with Sheffield United at the Amex Stadium.
Simon Adingra had put the hosts ahead with an excellent solo run but the game changed on Mahmoud Dahoud’s 69th-minute red card. The midfielder stamped on Ben Osborn’s achilles, with Adam Webster scoring an own goal moments later to take United off the bottom of the table for the first time since 23 September.
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De Zerbi, who was booked for his touchline behaviour, did not disagree with the red card shown by the referee, John Brooks, but the Brighton manager said afterwards: “I am honest and clear, I don’t like 80% of English referees. That isn’t a new opinion. I don’t like them. I don’t like their behaviour on the pitch.
“England is the only country where when there is VAR, you are not sure that the decision is right. In other countries, you have to be sure 100% that the decision taken is right. In England, no, and I am not able to understand.”
Both teams have scored in all of Brighton’s past 16 matches, equalling Everton’s Premier League record, including 12 since the start of the campaign – last achieved in the top flight by Liverpool in 1966-67.
De Zerbi is now on his longest run without a league win as Brighton manager, with his side having gone six games without taking three points. “We are spending time in an unlucky period,” the Italian said.
“I think we have lost four points; two against Fulham and two today. There wasn’t a game until the red card. There was only one team on the pitch. Brighton could have won the game two- or three-nil, but after the red card the game changed. We lost order and our style.”
Adingra went on a mazy run before finishing after a give-and-go with Facundo Buonanotte in the fifth minute. But after the red card, Jayden Bogle’s powerful cross was diverted into his own goal by Webster. It was the first time United had strung together two games without defeat in the top flight since July 2020.
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“Maybe getting off the bottom is important because people keep mentioning it but I’m not bothered. Not yet,” the visiting manager, Paul Heckingbottom, said.
“What is pleasing is how we’ve played against a good team. It is always about the points. I can give lots of reasons why we haven’t picked up more points this season: the way we started the season, final moments in games where we could and should have.”