Marouane Fellaini and Robert Huth face the prospect of a three-match suspension each after being charged with alleged violent conduct by the Football Association. The incident relates to Manchester United's 1-1 draw against newly crowned champions Leicester City on Sunday (1 May), when the towering Belgian midfielder appeared to swing an elbow to the jaw of his opponent after having his hair pulled by the uncompromising centre-back during a first-half corner.
The incident, which also saw Fellaini swipe out with his left hand, was not spotted by referee Michael Oliver and the absence of any mention in his post-match report has allowed the FA to act. United boss Louis van Gaal defended his player after the full-time whistle, insisting that he did not deserve to be sent off. In a bizarre interview, he told BBC Sport: "No, I don't think so. It's not in the books that someone has to grab by the hair and then pull it behind, only in sex masochism."
Confirming their retrospective decision, an FA statement read: "Marouane Fellaini and Robert Huth have both been charged for alleged acts of violent conduct which were not seen by the match officials but caught on video.
"The Manchester United midfielder and Leicester City defender were involved in an incident in the 21st minute of their game on Sunday [1 May 2016]. Both players have until 6pm on Wednesday 4 May 2016 to reply to the charge.
"Off-the-ball incidents which are not seen at the time by the match officials are referred to a panel of three former elite referees. Each referee panel member will review the video footage independently of one another to determine whether they consider it a sending-off offence. For retrospective action to be taken, and an FA charge to follow, the decision of the panel must be unanimous."
If Fellaini is handed a three-game ban, then he would miss the remainder of the top-four chasing Manchester United's 2015-16 Premier League fixtures, which include a trip to relegation candidates Norwich City next weekend before respective meetings with West Ham United and Bournemouth. Crucially, however, the 28-year-old would still be eligible for the FA Cup final clash with Crystal Palace at Wembley on Saturday 21 May.
Huth would miss Leicester's first match since winning the title at home to Everton as well as a visit to deposed champions Chelsea on the final day. He would also presumably be sidelined for the first game of the Foxes' defence, which will take place across the weekend of 13-14 August. The former German international would be available to play in the Community Shield against either United or Palace as that competition is generally regarded as a pre-season friendly rather than a competitive contest.