Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher believes that there were 2 major incidents over the weekend, in which Select Group officials made the wrong decisions.
They were Phil Dowd’s decision to only caution Kevin Mirralas for his high challenge on Luis Suarez in the Merseyside derby, and Kevin Friend’s decision to send Wes Brown off against Stoke.
Gallagher said ‘Friend must accept that he made a mistake and that the refereeing body must take such errors on the chin.’
I don’t think that there is much to be gained by disciplining the referees involved, as they are both human just like the rest of us – and make mistakes. Unfortunately for them, their mistakes happened in front of 40,000+ spectators and millions sat at home, which adds to the pressure they are under. As Gallagher stated, the refereeing body (PGMOL) has to take these errors on the chin.
Mistakes happen in football, if they didn’t then every game would finish 0-0, and just as the players make mistakes, so do referees.
If a striker misses an opportunity, the crowd put their hands on their heads and say he was unlucky. If a midfielder makes a mistake, the crowd get a bit more agitated. If a defender makes a mistake, the crowd start to shout a bit more. If a goalkeeper makes a mistake that ultimately leads to a goal, the crowd go mad and boo him. If a referee makes a mistake, he is public enemy number 1 for the next 6 months, 1 year, the rest of his career. There is no hiding place for a referee.
In hindsight, I am sure Phil Dowd will say that he should have sent Mirallas off. If the shoe was on the other foot, i.e. if it had been Suarez making that tackle/assault on Mirallas, I am certain that he would have been sent for an early shower. The tackle was high, after the ball had gone, and definitely left a mark on the back of Suarez’s knee – without doubt a red card offence.
Wes Brown executed one of the best and most committed sliding challenges I have ever seen. Yes, he did go in hard – he was committed to the tackle, but he didn't show his studs and when he made contact with the ball, it was on the floor. Yes, he did catch Charlie Adam with his follow through, but there was no intent, it wasn't reckless or high, it was under control.
The FA have now rescinded the red card, which I think was the right thing to do.