West Ham suffer ref justice as Manchester United take full advantage
PUBLISHED: 17:30 03 January 2017
Referee Mike Dean takes the spotlight amid the stars at the London Stadium
As referee Mike Dean walked out of the London Stadium, escorted by his linesmen, he could reflect upon the fact that amid managers like Jose Mourinho and Slaven Bilic and players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Andy Carroll, he had been the most influential person on Monday night.
Perhaps that made him feel good; perhaps he felt that he had stuck to his guns amid all the furore and criticism. Either way, it was not about the match, it was about him and that is just not right.
It is always tough to play against a team like Manchester United. They were on a good run and have the squad to be able to introduce fresh legs to a team brimming with top internationals.
But when they are given the advantage of playing against a team with 10 men for 75 minutes, the task is almost impossible.
This game turned on an early red card to Sofiane Feghouli and West Ham boss Bilic was incensed by the decision.
“I am the first one to say they have a difficult job and every time we look at slow motion replays I point out the refs don’t have that,” said Bilic diplomatically, before letting rip.
“But I would not have been happy with a yellow card. I said to the fourth official and Jose Mourinho ‘it’s not a yellow’.”
It seemed a knee-jerk reaction that was influenced by the sight of England international Phil Jones rolling on the turf like a gymnast doing a floor routine.
“I didn’t watch the replay at half time, but at the end of the game when I saw it, it gave me more proof that I was right,” added Bilic.
“In fact, the more times I’ve seen it, it’s the other way around. It’s Jones who made the more dangerous tackle – a scissors tackle.”
Feghouli did lose control of the ball and in his attempt to get to it first, he and Jones collided, but there was no malice, it was early in the game and a yellow card would have been the better course of action.
But with that red card went West Ham’s big chance and it was a shame because they had started superbly. Even with 10 men they put up the sort of fight that the fans rallied to.
Michail Antonio had the big chance which was saved by David De Gea, who denied the excellent Manuel Lanzini in the first half, but once United went in front through Juan Mata there was never going to be a way back.
A second goal from Ibramimovic saw three players standing offside as it was rammed in, another poor decision, but that merely rubbed salt into the West Ham wounds and left Bilic rather bitter.
“Last year we were on the wrong side of many decisions,” he said.
“I don’t agree that it evens itself out. That’s football, though, and the people will be talking about it in the pubs.”
They certainly will, but not about the skills of Lanzini or Paul Pogba, not about the clinical finish of Mata or the save by De Gea from Antonio.
They will be talking about Mike Dean and that is simply not what we want from our football.
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