'One of the most cowardly acts I've seen on a football pitch ' - Paul McGrath's verdict on Mings v Ibrahimovic
Paul McGrath has labeled Bournemouth defender Tyrone Mings ‘a coward’ after he appeared to try and stamp on Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic in Saturday’s feisty 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.
Mings and Ibrahimovic have been charged with misconduct by the Football Association and face suspensions after a niggly battle that could have resulted in both receiving red cards.
Referee Kevin Friend missed both the stamp from Mings that grazed the head of Ibrahimovic and the elbow from the United striker that appeared to be delivered in response moments later.
The FA now look certain to hand the pair three-match bans, with McGrath suggesting Mings could face stronger punishment after his rash challenge.
"I was shocked by what we all witnessed at Old Trafford on Saturday - and Tyrone Mings should hang his head in shame for one of the most cowardly acts I have seen on a football pitch in many a year,” McGrath wrote in a sundayworld.com column.
"I know what it is like to be a defender who gets wound up by a big striker, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic bullying Mings in a feisty first half duel between the duo.
"Clearly Zlatan had infuriated Mings with some of his antics and it was clear that the referee was a bit intimidated by the United striker as he allowed him to get away with a few incidents before everything exploded on the stroke of half-time.
"There is no doubt in my mind that Mings deliberately tried to stamp on Ibrahimovic when he was on the ground.
"He looked at him and seemed to go for a stamp. It was horrible to see and just imagine what might have happened if he had connected with the side of his skull. It doesn’t bear thinking about."
McGrath reflected that the incident reminded him of a clash he had with Mark Bright during his playing days, as he empathised with Ibrahimovic for his desire to gain some swift revenge.
“As I watched the incident, I was reminded of a clash I had with Mark Bright in my playing days, as he caught me when I was on the floor and left me with a huge gash under my eye,” he added.
“There was blood everywhere and I remember saying to Bright; Okay, if that’s the way you want to play it, then you are having some back.
“I would happily have punched him after that incident, but I remember one of my team-mates telling me to calm down because you have to think about the good of the team.
“So while I sympathise with Ibrahimovic elbowing Mings moments after that horrendous stamp brushed past his ear, he was lucky not to get a red card for that incident too.
“Now I would expect the Football Association to hand both of them bans in the coming days, with Mings fully deserving everything he gets in my eyes.”