It is to be hoped that Mike Dean enjoyed a safe and comfortable drive back to Merseyside yesterday evening after refereeing Sunderland v Aston Villa (though if, like Mike, we were betting men, we would wager that his impaired vision may make make driving a hazardous, stressful activity).
It is further to be hoped that is a long time before we see him in charge of a Sunderland game again.
Let us be fair. The following entry in Wikipedia, which does not appear to have neutral origins and will presumably not last very long, is perhaps overstating the case:
Dean courted controversy in the game between Sunderland and Aston Villa(17/01/09) when he failed to see several handballs including the one that led to the Aston Villa equaliser, he then went to make an a terrible decision to award a penalty for a foul that was just outside the box. He put in a shameful performance.
Sunderland did not lose solely because Dean missed two blatant handballs by Villa in their own penalty area and another for the Villa equaliser, or because he awarded Villa a penalty when the foul occurred just outside our box.
We lost mainly because having given ourselves an excellent start, and been easily the better side – against a top four team – in the first half, we then defended like carthorses at crucial moments of the second half. And missed two or three good opportunities to build on our lead or, after the equaliser, regain it.
But why is it that almost every time we play Villa, they are allowed to bring their own referee?
Answers on a postcard to any of the following: Steve Bennett, Howard Webb (whose lamentable failure to spot the Villa keeper’s theatrically performed handball, miles outside his area, at least failed to stop us winning) or Mike Dean.