Mark Clattenburg has lifted the lid on what it was like being a Premier League referee, revealing the players and managers he had most trouble with during his career.
Speaking to Ruby Walsh and Paddy Power on the latest episode of our From The Horse’s Mouth podcast, Clatts pointed the finger at our very own ambassador Jose Mourinho as one boss who held a bit of a grudge.
And Clattenburg, who took charge of matches in the top flight for 13 years between 2004 and 2017, also rubbed former Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana up the wrong way with a cheeky comment back in the midfielder’s Southampton days.
When asked if there was a manager he dreaded going to referee because he knew they didn’t like him, Clatts said: “Oh, probably Mourinho in the end.
“Mourinho was hard work when he came back from Real Madrid and ‘I got him the sack at Chelsea’. Well, he blames me for getting him the sack, but I’m sure it was all the results before that.
“Then, when he went to Manchester United, he was thinking the same thing – I’m going to get him the sack – so he was always against us.
“In general, managers like Sir Alex Ferguson, if they win you were the best referee in the world. If they’d lost…
“I remember there was one team when I was going up through the Football League, Wigan never won for 13 matches – it didn’t matter what I did, they never won.
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“Crystal Palace were the same. They never won a Premier League game when I reffed them, and I can remember a game at Aston Villa. Villa were rock bottom – and I thought, you know what, they are going to win this game. The goalkeeper threw one in and they got beat 1-0, and I still got the blame.”
Clattenburg is well-aware of how referees are seen as easy targets by players, but the men in black have no trouble standing up for themselves when it gets feisty on the pitch.
“It’s a love/hate relationship between referees, players and managers,” he explained.
“I think they love you when they are winning and then they hate you when they are losing, or you give a decision against them.
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“Football players play on the edge so you expect that when you are on the pitch, you’re going to take some verbals and sometimes referees give verbals back. I would give one or two one-liners but I never used to swear at players.
“I’d very rarely swear at players unless they really riled at us, but I do remember speaking to Adam Lallana once.
“He was giving us dogs abuse. I should have sent him off and I thought, oh, you know what, I’ll try and manage him my way.
I turned round and I say ‘yeah, you’ve changed since you’ve played for England’.
“Next thing I know, somebody’s put it in the newspaper.
“It can only be him because there was only me and him talking about it, so he ended up leaking it into the newspapers.
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“For what they say to us, if I repeated everything that they said, they would be absolutely annihilated. It’s certain things that you would have a fight with.
“Players would say you’re sh*t, and I would say ‘I know I am sh*t, that’s why I’m refereeing this match’.
“Little comments like that where you try and defuse the situation, but sometimes players were so wound up – especially just after half-time. That was the worst time to try and play a joke as the managers had probably got into their ribs and they’ve come out firing.
“That’s the time where you’d try and stay away from them because you know then next five or 10 minutes, the coach’s words are swinging round in their heads.”
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