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On Mike Dean and his final act of Mike Deaning

Thick as thieves, the lot of them

Chelsea FC v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Because the referees matter most, this sort of crowding around an official won’t happen this season
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

The analysis article I wrote just about a year ago about the Chelsea vs. Tottenham match, the one where Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte had the rigorous handshake regarding a lack of eye contact, had this headline: “Outlandish officiating overshadows the outcome.” While the alliteration is fantastic (pats back), the statement itself happens to have since been verified — it only took a year!

Here was the conclusion to my intro paragraph: “Somehow, contrivingly through the will of the PGMOL through inadequate use of VAR, we ended up dropping two attainable points.”

Ignoring the foul from all available angles

In fairness, this is a tougher pill to swallow simply because we are the aggrieved party in Mike Dean’s self-confirmed atrocious decision, but there have already been quite a few mistakes made by the league even this year already — and we’re only in week three! (Manchester United, unsurprisingly, huge benefactors after getting a soft penalty against Nottingham Forest and not having one called against André Onana in the Wolves match.) These mistakes are commonplace in the league, and are coming under more and more scrutiny, too.

How are we expected to trust either individuals or an organisation who have repeatedly proven to be incompetent and/or biased, even when they literally have hindsight and the capability to review most actions in question? In fact, our WAGNH ringleader and indefatigable writer himself felt the need to immediately address the issue of inadequate officiating in an article published only a few days after the incident in question last year.

Why is this coming up now? Because last week, on the Up Front podcast, Mike Dean had the following to say about what happened at the Bridge following his disgraceful decision to not send Anthony Taylor to the monitor after what everyone was then and have since insisted to be a clear foul. And now that list includes Dean himself.

“I missed the stupid hair pull at, bloody Chelsea versus Tottenham, which was pathetic from my point of view. It’s one of them where, if I had my time again what would I do, I’d sent Ant to the screen...

“He’s cautioned both managers, he’s had a hell of a game, it’s been such a tough game, end to end, and I said to Anthony afterwards: ‘I just didn’t want to send you to the screen after what has gone on in the game’...

“I didn’t want to send him up because he is a mate as well as a referee and I think I didn’t want to send him up because I didn’t want to make him work any more than he already had.”

-Mike Dean; source: Up Front

The fact that equity and fairness are not considered to be of the sine qua non of VAR, and the fact that Dean is inept enough to say the quiet part out loud, is calamitous. The context makes it unclear whether or not his reference of Taylor’s “hell of a game” was because Dean thought Taylor was missing calls, was being overworked, or simply couldn’t handle the pressure of the situation, as feisty as it was. Regardless, Dean is essentially admitting that there are more factors considered in the making of calls than the actual actions behind them. And his wording almost makes it seem like there may be some amount of collusion behind match officials, what we all suspected but dreaded to be true — and that really tarnishes the image of the PGMOL in general. Howard Webb (also entirely biased while on the pitch) has his work cut out.

To be fair to Dean, if you rewatch the situation, there is precisely zero chance that Anthony Taylor himself didn’t see the foul. He is staring in that direction and the foul takes place right next to the action on the pitch anyway. The game finished, amazingly, with three Chelsea players getting booked and zero cards for Tottenham, which is almost more laughable considering our lion’s share of the possession and that tactical fouling was an integral part of their strategy that day.

Anthony Taylor supposedly didn’t see it

If you’re more interested in just his Chelsea admission, it is right around the 49 minute mark in the video linked below. But I implore you to watch the entire interview, or even just the section about VAR — the air of audacity in this man in general is offensive, but his incredulously stubborn opinion of the institution and use of VAR is reprehensible. Worse yet, there is nigh zero possibility he was the sole one with this opinion — referees didn’t want to be told what to do and outright didn’t (and still possibly don’t) think they needed it.

To make it even more personal to Chelsea fans, this foul was in the dying embers of the game and committed just prior to another Tottenham corner kick, on which Harry Kane scored a 96th minute equaliser. That corner should have very clearly been a free kick to Chelsea, and we likely would have seen out the game with a win.

Let’s hope that Howard Webb continues to attempt to enforce fairness and remove substandard officials following errors. Better yet, he could improve the VAR booth by adding to those reviewing (many have said former players could be involved) or by himself supervising VAR decisions — it’s just an office in London, why can’t he be there? Improvements still need to be made if we want to continue to regard the Premier League as the standard bearing competition.

UPDATE: Mike Dean and the PGMOL have both chosen to respond to the criticism received after his short-sighted decision (like many he made on the field) to publicly comment so foolishly. First, here is the PGMOL’s response to his initial comments, almost denying what Dean has effectively admitted:

“VARs undergo extensive training with the focus centred entirely around effectively working with the on-field team of officials to rectify clear and obvious errors. When VARs identify a clear and obvious error by the on-field team of match officials, they should intervene and recommend a review by the referee. We strongly refute any suggestion that VARs do not intervene, for whatever reason, when they have identified a clear and obvious error.”

-source: 90 min

Here was a response to Dean’s comments from Martin Keown, former Arsenal defender turned pundit, and one of many people who have been outspoken about Dean’s idiocy:

“The ramifications were huge on that day, for both managers, Tuchel lost the plot completely because of the injustice that was happening and it was happening because that chap in VAR was trying to protect his mate. It’s just completely wrong and now we know why he was pulled out. A man like that really shouldn’t be in the VAR chair. I know he’s being honest but I don’t want to hear it, I honestly don’t want to hear that he’s trying to protect his mate above all else. I watched it last year and I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I thought he missed it but no he just wants to protect his mate. I think it’s completely unacceptable and we don’t want that kind of person connected to the game, you have to go there and be totally unbiased.”

-source: BT Talk Sport

Here is Mike Dean’s irresponsible response to the responses against him:

“You’ve got to look at in context here, you might not like some of the guys in your refereeing group but when you get a game on the weekend there’s 4 of you in the middle, the VAR and the AVR, and that’s them 6 people, they are your mates for the day. You might not like 3 or 4 of your team mates but come 3pm they are your mates and you want them to do well. This whole mate thing has been brought out of proportion to be fair but I want to support the referee as much as I can and that’s what you do at VAR, and I should’ve sent him to the screen but to say I didn’t send him to look at it because I was his mate is an absolute rubbish.”

-source: Metro

So Dean is now completely contradictory and trying to save face, but all you need to know about Mike Dean is that prior to officiating he slaughtered chickens with no regard, soulless homunculus that he is.

How the PGMOL will respond on the pitch to all of this is yet to be seen, but we can only hope and pray that it will cause erudite improvements, because they only essentially audit themselves.

Tranmere Rovers v Newport County - Sky Bet League Two Play-off Final
May you feel like you did here for the rest of your life
Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Getty Images

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