Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was sent off for the second time in a month on Sunday as the controversial coach watched his side draw 1-1 at home to West Ham United and lose more ground in the Premier League title race.
On an afternoon when Arsenal moved within three points of top spot after Alexis Sanchez scored twice in a 3-1 home win over Bournemouth, Mourinho’s hopes of seeing United roar back into contention foundered amid more Old Trafford drama.
At the end of last month the Portuguese was dismissed for abusing referee Mark Clattenburg at halftime against Burnley.
This time Mourinho’s crime was simple petulance, booting a bottle down the touchline in the 27th minute after what he felt was an unjust booking for Paul Pogba.
Jon Moss, the referee, had history with Mourinho, having also sent him to the stands against West Ham for a halftime rant at the official when he was Chelsea boss last November.
The score was 1-1 on Sunday when Mourinho saw red, Zlatan Ibrahimovic having levelled after a sensational start in which Diafra Sakho headed West Ham in front after 90 seconds, the second-fastest goal United had conceded at home in the Premier League.
What will have concerned Mourinho more than his latest run-in with authority was more dropped points as United, thanks to a fourth straight home league draw, lie sixth on 20 points, eight behind fourth-placed Arsenal and 11 adrift of leaders Chelsea.
Mourinho’s assistant Rui Faria, who is getting used to doing the media duties after his boss’s misdemeanours, seemed to be following the Portuguese’s recent assertions about United’s misfortunes, saying: “We can say we are unlucky. We all believe the results will appear.”
Of Mourinho’s dismissal, Faria told the BBC: “The referee explained it to Jose and there is nothing more to say. I think there was frustration from Jose after the yellow card for Pogba.
“It should be a foul for us but the referee understood it in another way.”
The top four are separated by just three points, Arsenal’s win opening up a bit of daylight for the leading quartet over the rest of the league, with rivals Tottenham Hotspur now four points adrift in fifth after Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Chelsea.