Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom let rip into Premier League officiating after he watched his team concede twice in stoppage time to lose 2-1 at Tottenham.
The Blades were on course for a maiden win since their return to the Premier League after Gustavo Hamer fired them in front after 73 minutes in the capital.
A minimum of 12 minutes were added on at the end of the 90 and Spurs punished the newly-promoted side, with Richarlison levelling in the eighth added minute before Dejan Kulusevski grabbed a dramatic winner two minutes later.
There was still time for Oli McBurnie to receive his marching orders for a second yellow card and the United manager bemoaned the display of referee Peter Bankes following their latest last-gasp defeat.
“Something needs to be done now and this is not me moaning. I said it (at) half-time and when we were 1-0 up as well. The focus is on time-wasting, so the referees are dictating how we play,” Heckingbottom insisted.
“We set up from the back, then Spurs push forward and then that dictates how we play, but no, we’re just told to play long. You can’t do it.
“Wes (Foderingham) got a yellow card for handling outside the box and then got threatened with a sending-off (for time-wasting) you can’t do it.
“The officiating is appalling and it’s not about the football decisions. It’s just game management.
“My worry is all the focus is on yellow cards for time-wasting and when I talked to the referees, they haven’t got a clue what I’m talking about. They’re officiating the game, they simply do not know the game.
"I'm sick for everyone, players, everyone put so much effort into the game. It was cruel but the game can be cruel."
Hecky reacts to our 2-1 defeat against Spurs. pic.twitter.com/YV4oa0OaBj
— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) September 16, 2023
“We need to sort that and sort that quick. It’s ruining the spectacle and then to sum it all up we get Oli McBurnie sent off for telling the referee someone is pulling his shirt.
“We’ve just seen someone lead with an elbow into our goalkeeper who needs stitches and that’s the same offence. What’s going on? Seriously what’s going on with our game?”
It was a different story for Tottenham after a euphoric victory inspired by substitute Richarlison following a difficult week.
Richarlison had been pictured in tears after being substituted in Brazil’s 5-1 win over Bolivia and revealed in midweek that he would seek “psychological help” following a turbulent time in his personal life.
After scoring only once in the Premier League last season following his £60million switch from Everton last summer, Richarlison grabbed the leveller with a header from Ivan Perisic’s corner to set up a grandstand finish in N17.
Two minutes later and a slick team move ended with Richarlison teeing up Kulusevski, who fired through Jack Robinson’s legs to spark wild celebrations before Spurs captain Son Heung-min urged the Brazilian to soak up the applause at full-time.
“Richy was great,” Tottenham head coach Ange Postecoglou said.
“I thought all the subs who came on really helped, but that’s been a consistent theme.
“Yeah for Richy, I think it’s the point I was trying to make yesterday. For him to understand that you try and maintain a balance in life and his football hasn’t been that bad. He’s still been contributing for us.
“Sometimes when you struggle with certain parts of your life, you let it go into other areas, but the football is one area where he can control and he works hard every day in training and really got his rewards today.
“And hopefully that gives him a bit more of a settled feel to deal with the other areas in his life. For everyone, it’s about not letting it overwhelm you and hopefully a day like today helps him.”