Across the vast gulf of space that is the divide between football tribes, perhaps the one thing we can all agree on is that referees are, in general, pretty terrible. Sure, they have a tough job, an almost impossible job given how little help and technology they have access to*, and they're under massive, constant scrutiny by fans, media, managers, players, TV cameras, super slow-motion, and the 24-hour football news machine ... but the same can be said about the players and the managers themselves, too. And yet, only the latter ever seem to face any repercussions for their transgressions and their mistakes.
* Referees remain to be set up for complete failure (barring lucky guesses), which is perhaps more baffling than any of Dean's decisions on Sunday.
Take our buddy Mike Dean, for example. Chelsea have a very good record under Dean (just as we do under most active referees). Arsenal do not (just as they do not have a good record in "big" matches over the past decade). But both sets of fans could feel aggrieved by several of Dean's decisions on Saturday. The non-call on Gabriel rugby tackling Hazard in the box. The entirely missed incident between Diego Costa and Laurent Koscielny. The poorly handled affair between Diego Costa and Gabriel. Just to name a few of the big calls. Here's former best referee in England, Technical Director of PGMOL, and occasional BT Sport pundit Howard Webb with his verdict.
Diego Costa and Gabriel face retrospective action and both teams have been charged as well, and yet, the man who was supposed to be in charge during the match, the man who was supposed to do his best to keep it 11-v-11 and not let things get out of control, not to mention, get his calls right, will be right back in action this coming weekend in the Premier League.
Mike Dean will remain on Premier League duty next weekend [West Ham United vs. Norwich City], despite his controversial afternoon at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Is it any wonder that every team in the land thinks the referees are out to get them? It doesn't matter how badly they might mess things up, how much controversy they cause, they will be back at it the following weekend no problem! It's like diplomatic immunity.
And maybe there was an internal review of Dean's performance. Maybe the decisions makers truly believe he did a good or good enough job. But given that there is zero transparency and zero public accountability for referees, it is far too easy to assume the worst. All we know is that the only man to emerge unscathed from the carnage at Stamford Bridge is the man overseeing it all. And that, is simply baffling.
NB. That said, please conduct yourselves with greater dignity than this.