Commentary

Final whistle has to blow on the ridiculous Mike Dean Show

It's known in football as the Mike Dean Show, and this episode in London's East End could easily have been staged in the West End, such was the referee's infuriating and continued capacity for claiming the limelight.

Accomplished referees can be found in English football such as Mark Clattenburg, Michael Oliver and Martin Atkinson, who deserve praise and support, but Dean consistently leaps into the headlines for the wrong reasons.

Arsenal fans once launched a petition calling on the Football Association to "prevent Mike Dean refereeing another Arsenal game"; it attracted 106,873 signatures.

He has also upset Liverpool and Southampton fans. Among others.

Criticising officials is never the most edifying of pursuits but mistakes by the likes of Dean can end up getting managers sacked.

The best referees, such as (Mark) Clattenburg, seek video technology to assist them. The worst ones, like Dean, urgently need it. In the time it took for Jones' roll to end, and for Feghouli to vacate proceedings, the video assistant referee could have advised on what occurred.

West Ham United's Slaven Bilic was actually the model of restraint in the aftermath of Dean's ludicrous decision to send off Sofiane Feghouli, even going as far as suggesting that such controversy as stirred up by Dean was great for pub debates.

But what happens if those dropped points cost West Ham their place in the Premier League and cost the Croatian his job?

Bilic knew it was a bad call, even telling the fourth official Paul Tierney that "it was not even a yellow" when Feghouli challenged Phil Jones after 15 minutes.

That West Ham will appeal the red card confirms their sense of injustice.

Fans were still making their way into this athletics stadium masquerading as a football ground when Manuel Lanzini tested David de Gea and were still arriving when the curtain was fully raised on the Mike Dean Show.

Feghouli's first touch was heavy, turning the odds of gaining the ball slightly in Jones' favour. Yet the Algerian had every right to contest possession.

He was clearly targeting the ball, as was Jones, who was also lunging in. Bilic felt it was more of a foul by the Manchester United defender.

Feghouli, leading with his right foot, caught Jones, who rolled away, clutching his right shin.

Dean seemed to respond more to the reaction by Jones, rather than the challenge by Feghouli.

He brandished the red card to general disbelief. Winston Reid, Havard Nordtveit and Dimitri Payet shepherded a bemused Feghouli away.

No Premier League referee has given more penalties (10) and red cards (five) than Dean this season.

The best referees, such as Clattenburg, seek video technology to assist them. The worst ones, like Dean, urgently need it.

In the time it took for Jones' roll to end, and for Feghouli to vacate proceedings, the video assistant referee could have advised on what occurred.

It might have tempered the opprobrium poured all over Dean by everyone from Gary Lineker ("absurd red card, ridiculous decision") to Alan Shearer ("another howler") if his reasoning could have been filtered out into the public domain through Mike Riley of Professional Game Match Officials Limited.

"Best league in the world but refereeing standards don't match up," Shearer added in his tweet before beseeching Riley to "sort your men out".

Overturning the red card will at least allow Feghouli to avoid missing three games but it will not change Monday's result. The frustration for West Ham fans and neutrals alike is that Dean spoilt a good game.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2017, with the headline 'Final whistle has to blow on the ridiculous Mike Dean Show'. Print Edition | Subscribe