Manchester United midfielder Casemiro wiped tears from his face and was consoled by several teammates when he was sent off in the first half of Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Southampton.
Casemiro has been a catalyst-like revelation since joining United from Real Madrid for £60m in August, having a transformative impact on an underperforming squad despite the transfer initially prompting a sceptical response after the failed pursuit of Frenkie de Jong.
But suspensions have stopped him playing as often as he or fans would have liked.
The Brazilian was banned when United were narrowly beaten by a late Arsenal goal in January due to an accumulation of yellow cards, before missing three more games in February because of a red card against Crystal Palace. Now, he will serve a domestic four-game ban for the straight red against Southampton – increased from the usual three because it is a second offence.
Remarkably, Casemiro was never shown a straight red card in nearly 400 games for Real Madrid and Porto over a nine-year period. Yet he has had two in quick succession for United in 2023 alone.
The challenge on Southampton’s Carlos Alcaraz initially resulted in a yellow card in real time, but a VAR intervention and second look saw it upgraded to red. With an appeal unlikely to be successful because it was already reviewed at the time, United decided not to submit one.
But Erik ten Hag still defended his player: “Never had a [straight] red card, and now he has two. He plays tough but fair. Of course, it looks bad when you freeze the frame but everyone who knows something about football know what is bad and what is fair. I tell you Casemiro is a very fair player.”
That ‘tough but fair’ philosophy appears to have also been why Casemiro was so upset, with a previous interview conducted while he was a Real Madrid player making clear that he never wants to hurt an opponent and gets ‘angry’ when others do because of the ‘values’ his mother taught him.
“The referee, the fans, I think the key to all of this is that they also see there is no malice. I always try to get the ball, I always go strong because that is who I am. I like the intensity that I play with, but there is no malice, I have never gone with studs to hurt a player,” he told Revista Panenka last year.
“If someone is going to hurt a player, I get angry because that is not football. In football you can foul, fouls are part of the game. But never with malice. And I think it comes from my values which my mother taught me. And I am never going to hurt a player.
“I am never going to insult a player, I am never going to do anything wrong. Of course, being on the field you can stir up a player, that is normal and it will always happen because each one defends their badge. But my values that my mother taught me is never to hurt anyone.
“I think I am going to keep fouling and receiving cards because that is football, but I believe my values that my mother taught me is never to hurt anyone.”
On this week’s show, Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders, Grizz Khan and Hunter Godson. They talk Arsenal’s win over Fulham, Liverpool’s loss at Bournemouth, Casemiro’s red card vs Southampton and more. If you can’t see this embed, click here to watch the video!