One ref got it right

FOR all the flak that has been flying around about referees, and there has been a fair amount around here, one man offers hope - Mike Dean.The man in the middle of the Fulham v Chelsea emerged as not only the coolest dude at the Cottage but also the one person who could quite rightly say he was totally blameless in some of the disgraceful scenes.

FOR all the flak that has been flying around about referees, and there has been a fair amount around here, one man offers hope - Mike Dean.

The man in the middle of the Fulham v Chelsea emerged as not only the coolest dude at the Cottage but also the one person who could quite rightly say he was totally blameless in some of the disgraceful scenes. On and off the pitch.

Dean was the man who quite rightly disallowed Didier Drogba's 'goal' on Sunday as he had punched the ball forward with a fist before slotting it home.

Amidst the frenetic Fulham protests Dean calmly took advice from his assistant, who had used his buzzer in his flag to alert him to a problem, then pointed for a free kick for hand-ball.


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All quite proper and a big, big, decision and surely it doesn't matter how he came to it - he got it right. Dean then had the courage to come out post match and explain the decision and quite rightly asked that credit be given for getting it right.

Of course it wasn't by Jose Mourinho, who thinks he is so special he can actually see through the eyes of others now.

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And it was the same for the so-called expert pundits in the Sky Studio who champion Premiership football by whipping up the most absurd controversy over anything, usually lambasting the officials unfairly, and make dull as ditchwater games sound like all-time classics.

So Mr Dean, for what it's worth from this humble column, a very big well done, keep up the good work and let's hope your calmness, good sense, common-sense and courage rubs off on a few more of your colleagues in black.

Mike Riley, a man used to grief, also showed good commonsense when he had a quiet word with Djbril Cisse, who was gesturing to Newcastle fans after he had scored for Liverpool.

No cards, no drama just a word in the ear and everything calmed down.

What a shame that Kevin Friend did not show such expertise at Palace where 2,000 Town fans paid £30 to see Ricardo Fuller and Co. in action, and not Mr Friend and his linesman.

It was not just over-excitable 'experts' who need to look in the mirror this week but Mourinho and William Gallas as well.

Gallas was a complete imbecile in his actions, and I'm not saying that because he cost me points in my Fantasy League team.

His lunge and reaction that earned him a red card was crass stupidity, especially given the position of the incident.

How was he going to help his team doing that on the touchline with seconds to go before full-time?

His thumbs-down signal to Fulham fans was also futile and foolish and if he gets an extra game or two ban then no-one will be surprised.

Whether all that had anything to do with the Fulham crowd invasion and the reaction of Chelsea fans, is questionable. Perhaps the home fans were just delirious at beating their close neighbours and got over excited - silly but not criminal.

Those that went too far at taunting Chelsea fans deserve punishment, a banning orders and fines along with those Blues fans who got on the pitch and threw punches.

But whatever happens to the two clubs and the sets of supporters, I hope the severity of punishment for Roma is in proportion.

Perhaps I have missed something here but the condemnation from UEFA has not been representative of the violent and disgraceful actions perpetrated on innocent Middlesbrough supporters, before during and after their wonderful UEFA Cup success.

If the north-easterners had been the aggressors I have no doubt what the reaction across Europe would be. So, come on the FA, stick up for your country's team and supporters and press for Roma's banishment and a warning to Italy about the behaviour of their fans in the forthcoming World Cup.

England fans were no angels in the past but they have been superb over the past few years, in Japan and Portugal and in the qualifiers.

The policing and work of many organisations has meant genuine fans can once again support our nation abroad with pride.

WHILE I can just about understand the FA's reasons for holding the quarter-finals of its most prestigious and famous tournament during the week, instead of on a Saturday when it should be, I'm completely baffled as to why it has to be over four days.

Yes, the FA are doing Sven and the Premier League another great favour by squeezing the FAmous Cup into a slot that helps England players have more time off to prepare for the World Cup without disrupting the Premiership too much.

But why not just play two games on each of two nights, Tuesday and Wednesday, and let television take its chances going head-to-head. I mean what is wrong with a bit of competition. I wonder which broadcaster was most afraid of going head-to-head?

It is still not right that the Cup is not played at the weekend but at least it would cause less disruption.

Except, of course, it has with Alan Pardew getting heaps of flak for fielding a supposedly-weakened side against Portsmouth at the weekend.

The fact that last night's Cup match against Manchester City was their third gruelling game in five days matters not to the hierarchy. At least Bryan Robson had the good grace and understanding to say nothing about Portsmouth being handed such an advantage in their relegation fight.

He too realised that this was not of Alan Pardew's making, and in a similar situation would probably have done the same.

England had better win the World Cup after all that has been invested in it. Let's all hope they do and I'm sure they can - after all they will not have any excuses, will they.

THE British Sports Book Awards kick off tomorrow and the autobiography category promises to be a hard-fought contest - and not just because Frank Bruno is among the contenders.

Terry Butcher, Des Lynam, Kelly Holmes, Bruno and Sir Bobby Robson's stories are all short-listed.

Butcher's tome would get my vote and, judging by the reaction of readers who won copies in our competition, it would be a popular choice.

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