Garth Crooks admitted it was ‘alarming’ to witness Alexis Mac Allister being handed his marching orders at the weekend after engaging in a 50/50 challenge with Ryan Christie.
Replays of the event clearly showed both players coming into the tackle side-footed, with the latter winning the ball first before being left on the turf by the Argentine’s follow-through.
“The penalty awarded to Liverpool by referee Thomas Bramall was as surprising as it was unnecessary, however it was the dismissal of Alexis Mac Allister that was alarming,” the former Tottenham star wrote in his column for BBC Sport (via the Echo).
“The tackle was high because the ball sat up, but the challenge was neither dangerous or reckless.
“Fans, players and managers should not be surprised by a sending off – it should be obvious – and this was not.
“If a referee is going to send a player off because he cannot determine the difference between a bad, dangerous or reckless foul, I question whether he should be out there at all.”
The Merseysiders have since raised an appeal with the FA in the hope of overturning what many commentators view to be a wholly unfair decision.
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Forgetting the unfairness of the decision, it’s difficult to see how such calls are at all in keeping with the spirit of the game.
There has to be a difference, surely, between a player going studs up or – as Cody Gakpo discovered last term – leaving a mark on a player and two players honestly going into a tackle without any intention of causing harm to their opponent.
At the very least, if the FA feel inclined to back the on-pitch referee, we’d hope that some acknowledgement will be given with regard to the intentions of the player and result in a reduced suspension.
Ultimately, backing referees shouldn’t come at the detriment of an honest player, should it?