Alan Pardew feels as though his players aren’t being given enough protection by Premier League referees from week to week.
Referencing the decision to send Dwight Gayle off directly, the Eagles boss has been forthright in stating that there is still plenty of work to be done if the top flight’s best referees are ever to reach a faultless standard, given the inconsistencies that currently exist in their decision making.
If we were to move the discussion back to our home fixture against Arsenal earlier this season, no one would honestly deny that Francis Coquelin deserved to see red for a run of fouls, but unfortunately for us, in the heat of the moment, Lee Mason decided otherwise, allowing Arsene Wenger to substitute the midfielder just minutes later without any level of penalisation.
Whilst many will slate a supporter for bringing up a weeks old decision, it is the startling lack of consistency which remains the biggest bugbear for passionate fans up and down the country, leading to entirely understandable discussions over potential favouritism, given the impact a single decision can have on the balance of any match.
Given our style of play, with pace and width on the counter-attack, it would come as no surprise to see our opponents in disciplinary trouble from week to week, but bafflingly, it is our own players (IE Gayle against West Ham) who appear more likely to land themselves in hot water.
There is little to no suggestion that, in the grand scheme of things, Mark Clattenburg was completely wrong in sending the striker off, but as a direct parallel it would be comforting to know that, were a similar incident to occur against us tomorrow, we could expect an identical punishment to be handed out by the officials.
Sadly, as has proven to be the case all too often, no one has a clue what will happen from week to week and in reality, that degree of randomness will always encourage dissent from fans, players and managers alike.