Keith Hackett has slammed referee Chris Kavanagh’s performance in Tottenham v Manchester United.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-Premier League and FIFA referee claimed Kavanagh was “like a rabbit in headlights” and was “pressured” by the Spurs players to overturn his decision that led to Manchester United opening the scoring.

In the first half, Scott McTominay easily moved the ball past Son Heung-min before launching an attack that was beautifully finished off by Edinson Cavani.

During the attack, Son stayed on the ground clutching his face after he was hit by McTominay.

After reviewing the incident on the pitchside monitor the referee awarded Tottenham a free-kick and the goal was chalked off.

“What we have to remember is, football is a contact sport,” Hackett told Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley.

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“There’s no doubt that Son has overreacted. That’s brought the attention of the VAR to him.

“The referee’s in a good position, the assistant referee’s in a good position.

“The goal is scored and it’s a good goal for me.

“The referee has been pressured, to some degree. He’s surrounded by players and I have to tell you that I thought the referee had a poor game. He’s one of the up and coming referees and I suppose you have a big game. But this seemed to be too big of a game for him in his career. He looked like a rabbit in headlights.

“If he was selling ice cream I wouldn’t buy one of him because he’s not a very good salesman at selling his decisions, whatever way.

“It’s like he’s not even looking at them. He’s got a signal what I would call gaze awareness. When a referee does that he removes his gaze away from players and he’s signalling that he’s got some doubt in his mind. That’s the signal players will read.

“The body language of a referee when you make that type of decision is so important. You’ve got to sell that decision. 

“Referees have got to go to the monitor and view it as they would a neutral referee. I believe they’ve taken on board that the VAR has intervened and therefore ‘I’ve got something wrong.’ They’ve got to overcome that.”

In other news, Harry Kane has privately delivered a scathing four-word verdict on Tottenham’s future.