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Mike Dean: The Most Controversial Referee in the Premier League

They say the sign of a good refereeing performance is one where you hardly even know the official is there, if a game can flow freely without any controversy then you would have to consider it a job well done from the man in black.

Unfortunately though when it comes to Mike Dean that never seems to be the case, the Wirral based official has once again grabbed the headlines after being demoted to The Championship for his refereeing duties this week.

Dean is rarely out of the limelight due to his penchant for awarding strange penalties and red cards, while his actions on the pitch have a habit of frustrating managers and fans alike. Throw a host of funny facial expressions into the mix and you get a ref with a unforgettable presence on the pitch.

He seems to court controversy wherever he goes, by why exactly? Let’s now take a look at 5 reasons as to why the spotlight is always on him.

The Most Red Cards

The 48-year old has the notorious reputation of having dished out the most red cards in the league this season. Considering that seven refs have not pulled out a red card all season, critics consider Dean’s 5 cards to be excessive. Anthony Taylor, the only other ref who comes close in the number of send offs, has 3 red cards to his name.

A particularly controversial red card was the one he handed Sofiane Feghouli during the West Ham vs Manchester United match. This decision so outraged West Ham boss Slaven Bilic that he went as far as accusing Dean of “killing” his team. As expected though West Ham did not take the ref’s decision lying down with an appeal subsequently seeing the sending off of Feghouli rescinded

But Bilic was not the only critic to have a go at Michael Dean after the match. Alan Smith of Sky Sports accused the controversial official of wanting to be the centre of attention. Another critic, Niall Quinn, claimed that Dean’s arrogance alone put him off. But is Dean as arrogant as his detractors claim he is?

No Look Booking

Unfortunately, his behaviour during the Merseyside Derby only cemented his reputation for being arrogant. For one, he flashed a yellow card at Ross Barkley without so much as looking at him. And this is not the first time he has done this. The so called ‘no-look’ booking is now something of a Mike Dean trademark. In the same match, he failed to send off Barkley for a nasty tackle against Jordan Henderson and if there’s one thing that Football fans hate it is inconsistency from officials.

And as if that was not enough, Dean then let a pass from Roberto Firmino to Adam Lallana pass through his legs. While much to the chagrin of his critics, he repeated the same trick days later with a pass from Tottenham’s Dele Alli. Such antics have left many football fans venting their anger as somehow the man in the middle once again unnecessarily involves himself in the game.

Online Petition against Mike Dean

Dean rubbed Arsenal fans the wrong way in September 2015 when he failed to send off Chelsea’s Diego Costa despite striking Laurent Koscielny in the face twice. Costa also scratched Gabriel’s neck severely. This resulted in Gabriel lashing out only for Dean to send him off.

In response, the Arsenal fanbase mobilised themselves on social media by setting up an online petition to ensure that he never oversees an Arsenal match ever again. Unfortunately for Gunners fans the petition was not a success as Dean has officiated many games of theirs since but the fact that over 106,000 fans added their signature to the online campaign speaks volumes.

Celebrating Goals

Although Perhaps the most sensational accusation leveled against Mike Dean by Arsenal fans is celebrating a 2012 Tottenham goal against them. When Thomas Vermaelen deflected a shot from Louis Saha into the back of the Arsenal’s net, fans swear that the ref skipped thrice in celebration. But they are not the only ones to accuse him of celebratory behaviour after the scoring of a goal.

Aston Villa fans accused the official of running with outstretched arms after a goal by Spurs’ Moussa Dembele in 2015. Footage also showed the ref jabbing the air with a pointed finger several times. But contrary to popular opinion, Dean was not celebrating. He was only urging players to continue playing after Dembele made contact with a defender. The finger jabbing too was totally innocent. It indicated that the goal stood.

The Most Penalties

Besides awarding the most red cards, Dean has also awarded the most penalties (10 in all) this season. The most notable and controversial were the two he awarded during Man City’s 4-1 victory at Stoke. Even PGMOL, the referee’s body, faulted the penalties and went as far as demoting the official for a week as a result.

Love him or hate him, there is no ignoring Mike Dean. Despite his controversies, Graham Poll who was once the most high-profile ref in the country puts his job in perspective. According to Poll whose career was defined by his 3 yellow card blunder in the 2006 World Cup, ‘a ref’s job is not to be popular but to be on the field to show courage and conviction’

You could argue as to how much conviction and courage Mike Dean shows but there’s no doubting he is not very popular as of late.

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