MARK Clattenburg will take charge of his third Manchester derby when United welcome fierce rivals City to Old Trafford on Sunday (KO 14:05 BST).
The 40-year-old, from County Durham, booked three players when he was in the middle the last time the sides met in April as the Reds ran out 4-2 winners at the Theatre of Dreams.
Clattenburg also handled City’s infamous 6-1 away win almost four years ago to the day when he sent off then United defender Jonny Evans for a last-man foul on Mario Balotelli early in the second half.
He will be assisted this weekend by Fifa linesman Jake Collin, from Merseyside, and Richard West of east Yorkshire while the fourth official is Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire).
Clattenburg has issued 44 yellow cards and two red cards in 11 games in all competitions – seven of which have been in the Premier League.
The Gosforth-based whistler has already encountered both United and City on three occasions this season – overseeing City’s 2-0 win over Watford in August and 4-1 defeat at Tottenham last month as well as United’s 3-2 win at Southampton in September.
Clattenburg was criticised for ‘ruining the occasion’ by Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew for sending off striker Dwight Gayle for two bookable offences in their 3-1 home defeat by West Ham last weekend.
It was only the second player the Fifa elite official has dismissed this season after Chelsea captain John Terry for a professional foul on West Brom striker Salomon Rondon in their 3-1 win at the Hawthorns in August.
Former head of referees Keith Hackett believes the appointment of Clattenburg has been ‘made on merit’ after a number of impressive displays in recent weeks.
“This appointment is fully deserved. It has been made on merit. Mark is the best man to handle what is always a highly charged fixture,” he told You Are The Ref.com.
Newcastle United supporter Clattenburg, who regularly controls Champions League and international matches, is no stranger to officiating high-profile games and is widely known for his informal communication with players on the pitch.
The trained electrician sent off United’s Luke Shaw and Tyler Blackett against West Ham and Leicester respectively last term and showed City captain Vincent Kompany a red card on international duty for Belgium against Israel earlier this year.
Clattenburg has handled nearly 250 Premier League matches since his promotion to the Select Group in 2004 but was suspended in 2008 for eight months for breaching his contract in relation to personal business deals.
Last season, he was seemingly out of favour after being dropped for one weekend for travelling back to Newcastle alone following a game to attend an Ed Sheeran concert and calling then-Crystal Palace boss Neil Warnock without the other officials being present.
Aside from the derby, Clattenburg only paid one other visit to Old Trafford in 2014-15 to take charge of United’s 3-0 win over Tottenham in March while he was also at the helm for City’s away games at Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, West Brom and Swansea.
Among Clattenburg’s officiating achievements are the League Cup Final, Olympic Games gold medal match in 2012 and the 2013 Community Shield – all at Wembley – as well as the 2014 Uefa Super Cup between Real Madrid and Sevilla at the Cardiff City Stadium.
The Consett-born referee – who is highly regarded as one of the top officials in Europe – is battling with Martin Atkinson to be England’s representatives for Euro 2016 in France and the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
But Atkinson – who has not handled a Manchester derby since December 2012 – has been preferred over Clattenburg for Champions League duty this week having been assigned to Zenit St Petersburg’s Group H match with Lyon on Tuesday night.
Another Fifa official, Michael Oliver, handled the first derby meeting last season as Sergio Aguero’s goal gave City a 1-0 win over 10-man United at the Etihad Stadium after Chris Smalling was sent off for two bookable offences.
But there have only been five red cards shown in the last 20 meetings in all competitions – even though the keenly-fought rivalry between the two sides has heightened in recent years.
Premier League leaders City have won four of the last five meetings but third-placed United can move a point ahead of their cross-city neighbours with back-to-back derby wins for the first time since 2010.