Kieran Gibbs was about to find himself the half-time talking point but then up stepped Slaven Bilic or, rather, up stepped Mike Dean.
The final few minutes of the first half of Everton’s 5-2 victory over West Brom on Saturday were nothing short of chaotic as Mike Dean took centre-stage.
West Brom took an early lead thanks to Grady Diangana but Everton continued piling pressure after the half-hour mark and drew level when Dominic Calvert-Lewin nudged the breaking ball over the line.
With moments left before the break, James Rodriguez gave his side the lead with his first goal for the Toffees and then it all kicked off.
Kieran Gibbs took umbrage with a nudge from the goalscorer and shoved Rodriguez in the face, sending the Colombian playmaker to the deck.
The half-time whistle blew but West Brom manager Slaven Bilic wanted to voice his frustrations to referee Mike Dean.
A goal and a red card to finish off the half, it's all gone wrong for West Brom!
Slaven Bilic vents his frustrations at Mike Dean 😡 pic.twitter.com/2GBqEsnHqv
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) September 19, 2020
“Check the foul, check the foul for us and the red card. Next time kills us,” Bilic said to Dean, who simply repeated with a firm “Go away!”
“Next time kills us,” Bilic reiterated. “You can also kill us!”
Dean displayed little patience for Bilic’s line of questioning, which you can hear above, and didn’t hesitate to show the Baggies boss a red card of his own.
The pundits watching the game for BT Sport, Owen Hargreaves and Joe Cole, made it clear that they felt the decision to send Bilic off was an unfair one.
“I think he has the right to ask the question,” Hargreaves said. “He’s saying ‘check the foul, check the red card.’
“He didn’t swear, he wasn’t rude. I think he just wanted to know. I’m not sure he deserved to be sent off.”
West Brom started the second half enthusiastically with a spectacular Matheus Pereira free-kick making it 2-2 but Everton pulled clear after Michael Keane’s goal, with Calvert-Lewin subsequently completing his hat-trick.
Dean’s decision on the stroke of half-time will be scrutinised by many in the coming days and former Chelsea star, Joe Cole, accused the referee of losing control.
Cole said: “I think Mike lost his composure a little bit there but he [Bilic] is well within his rights to do it. Passionate game, Slaven just coming up.
“You can understand the frustration, he’s set his team up so well in that first half and in three incidents, it’s killed him.”