Manchester United fans hit out at Mike Dean after he sent off Juan Mata against West Brom on Sunday afternoon, but they might have missed the Wirral-based referee’s off-the-ball foul on Marcus Rashford.
Of course, Dean didn’t mean to take out Rashford - but the footage is amusing nevertheless. (Scroll down this page to watch the video).
Rashford was inadvertently tripped up after running across the match official’s path. Dean pointed to the 18-year-old striker - indicating that play should continue - but the move broke down, much to the referee’s relief, soon after.
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One can only imagine what Louis van Gaal would have said about Dean had that particular West Brom attack resulted in a goal.
In fairness to Rashford, he didn’t roll around on the floor. The Manchester-born forward quickly got back to his feet in order to help his team defend.
Video: Mike Dean 'fouls' Marcus Rashford
Click HERE if the video above doesn't work.
Van Gaal was disappointed with Mike Dean
Van Gaal was disappointed that Dean was so quick to show Mata, a player who hadn’t been sent off in his career before Sunday and never causes trouble on the pitch, a second yellow card.
The veteran Dutch coach suggested the referee should have taken Mata’s previous good behaviour into consideration before brandishing the red card.
"The referee has to know the person who makes the tackle and that Mata never hurts an opponent," Van Gaal said, to the bemusement of journalists, in his post-match press conference.
Of course, though, this is not the way football works. Mata should have known better than to pick up two foolish yellow cards in quick succession.
Mata has taken responsibility for his red card
In his weekly blog, the Spanish playmaker took responsibility for his actions but suggested Dean may have been harsh with both bookings.
“After almost 500 games as a professional player, this Sunday I was sent off for the first time in my career,” Mata wrote. “As you can imagine, it’s not easy for me to write these lines. The truth is this is a new and strange situation for me, not easy to assimilate, but we learn from everything.
“I know that, in football, we see things like these every week, but obviously what hurts more is that my team-mates had to fight with ten men for a long time. I have the feeling that both decisions were rigorous; that, in many occasions, we see more serious fouls that are not penalised in such a way, but at the same time I could have avoided them and I take responsibility.”
United will struggle to secure top-four finish
Manchester United lost the match 1-0, with Salomon Rondon scoring the only goal of the game in the second half.
The Red Devils now find themselves sixth in the Premier League table, three points off fourth-placed Manchester City, with nine matches left to play.
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