Not for the first time in his career, Mike Dean took centre-stage in the opening and closing moments of Manchester United’s record-equalling rout against Southampton on Tuesday evening.
The Premier League match at Old Trafford looked like an uphill battle for the Saints from the second minute, when Mike Dean sent off Alexandre Jankewitz for a late challenge on Scott McTominay.
There were few arguments over that decision but there was plenty of controversy 85 minutes and six goals later, when Dean consulted the pitch-side monitor and opted to compound Southampton’s misery by adding a red card to the original penalty decision when Jan Bednarek was judged to have fouled Anthony Martial.
According to Bednarek, Martial even admitted that it wasn’t a foul but Dean’s mind was made up and while the match had long passed Southampton by, the use of the so-called ‘double jeopardy rule’ caused quite a bit of debate after the 9-0 thrashing.
“It goes against everything you’re brought up to know about football. It’s a crazy rule, crazy rule,” Ferdinand said on BT Sport.
“The reaction on social media tells you everything you need to know about it. There’s absolute disbelief everywhere.
“Mike Dean has given 109 red cards in his career, the most red cards out of any referee, so he doesn’t mind getting his red card out.
“You’re going to have to be taught now and rebooted as an individual that you must really go in and try to win the ball rather than try to get out the way. It’s crazy.”
The rule in question refers to the act of punishing a team twice – with a penalty and red card – after a foul in the box, depending on whether an attempt has been made to play the ball.
The FA rules state: “Where a player commits an offence against an opponent within their own penalty area which denies an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and the referee awards a penalty kick, the offending player is cautioned if the offence was an attempt to play the ball; in all other circumstances (e.g. holding, pulling, pushing, no possibility to play the ball etc.) the offending player must be sent off.’”
Ferdinand wasn’t alone in his criticism of Dean as former United teammate Michael Owen also branded the decision to send off Bednarek a “shambles.”
Owen tweeted: “I admire Mike Dean. He’s always been a referee who has shown real courage under pressure. But tonight’s decision was the perfect opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
That absolutely sums things up. The best thing is it hardly matters. But if that’s a pen then the game has officially gone. Biggest example of a dive I’ve seen in ages. Shambles.
— michael owen (@themichaelowen) February 2, 2021
“We really need someone who understands the game to make these big calls. That was an absolute joke tonight.”
The double-jeopardy rule reared its head twice on Tuesday as David Luiz was sent off in similar circumstances when he was judged to have fouled Wolves’ Willian Jose in the Arsenal box, conceding a penalty and receiving a red card in the Gunners’ defeat at Molineux.