Upon second viewing of Anthony Knockaert’s challenge on Luka Milivojevic during Saturday afternoon’s game between Crystal Palace and Brighton, 99% of viewers agree that the Seagulls midfielder was extremely lucky not to receive a red card. Incredibly, that’s not the opinion of former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher.
Analysing the weekend’s contentious decisions for Sky Sports in a regular segment, Dermot suggested that Craig Pawson was right to only show the Frenchman a yellow, with both men having gone in recklessly on one another.
Quite how someone of his stature and experience can view a tackle as severe as Knockaert’s and not immediately view it as a red card offence is anyone’s guess but here we are. The Brighton man not only fails to pull out of the challenge with the ball long gone, he actively extends his foot (and studs) at the very end, stabbing them into Milivojevic’s groin a split second later.
another red card completely bottled by the ref. pic.twitter.com/DDRt5bKHka
— ً (@cpfcjay) March 9, 2019
My and many other people’s reading of the call was that it arrived too early in the game (just 28 seconds had passed when it occurred) for referee Craig Pawson to think seriously about dismissing Knockaert. In a bitter rivalry, being televised live on Sky Sports, this call to send him walking would have made headlines and perhaps Mr Pawson wasn’t ready for that level of scrutiny.
There will be at least a few Brighton fans who suggest I’m speaking from a biased perspective but I genuinely cannot believe that someone with such prior standing within the refereeing profession can view the above tackle and not see it as an immediate red card. It makes you wonder if he and the ever-increasing number of talking heads are saying things on TV to generate discussion rather than being totally honest.
if these are the sort of people who will be helping to implement VAR next season, what hope have we got?