It’s not Pogba’s sending off, it was the inconsistencies of the ref and the arguments that bother me

I have to address something and it’s going to take more than 240 characters so I’m doing it here instead of Twitter (because I can!) This came to a head on twitter last night with a few people including my buddy Deg so I wanted to clarify my point.

First of all, I don’t think the referee cost Manchester United their Champions League match against PSG. Yes he was awful, which effected how the game was played, but ultimately the better team won and 2-0 was a fair scoreline. Both those things can be true!

Paul Pogba never should have been sent off. Never. It’s not about whether his foot got Dani Alves’ shin, it did, it’s about the situation and the consistency in the how the match was being called.

The still shots make this look bad. Of course they do. But I promise you if you took still shots of every second of every match you’d find several red card offenses. Hell, we had one that happened earlier on in the second half! 

Marcus Rashford is running with the ball when Presnel Kimpembe tried to body him off the ball. While doing so, Kimpembe’s elbow flies into Rashford’s face.

An elbow to the face, by rule that’s a straight red isn’t it? Nothing was called on this play, not even a foul. That was just a tussle for the ball where limbs fly and things happen I guess (or that’s what people on twitter tell me).

Personally I don’t think Kimpembe should have gotten a red for that. I thought it was absolutely a foul, and based on the way the referee was calling the game in the first half, it should have been a yellow (which would have been Kimpembe’s second).

That’s because context to those still shots matters. Kimpembe wasn’t trying to elbow Rashford in the face, Pogba wasn’t trying to get Dani Alves in the shin.

The play in question for Pogba was late in the game. It was a 50/50 ball that both players went all in on. Both Pogba and Alves only had eyes for the ball. Pogba tried to step across and shield the ball with his body. While doing that his boot hits Alves in the shin. It’s a collision, it’s nasty, but it happens.

By definition, a 50/50 ball can go either way, and by definition someone will get there first and the other player will be “late.” Does that mean every 50/50 ball should be a foul? No, of course. And it also doesn’t mean that every 50/50 ball shouldn’t be a foul. Context matters.

The counter argument is that intent doesn’t matter. Liverpool fans will be real quick to remind you about Sadio Mane’s red card against Manchester City last season. Mane’s boot hit City goalkeeper Ederson up in his neck and he saw red. Mane had no intention of hitting Ederson, his eyes were clearly only on the ball, but “intent doesn’t matter” and Mane was sent packing.

Intent should matter! That doesn’t mean that Mane shouldn’t have been sent off, it means that the Pogba and Mane plays were completely different. Mane’s boot was high, high boots are illegal and if you raise it that high you’re asking for trouble. Pogba’s boot isn’t high at all, it’s right in line with where it should be if he’s trying to play the ball.

Now if you want to say to Pogba you weren’t trying to do that but it happened and thus it’s a card, fine. But that’s where the inconsistencies of the ref come in. It was already clear that the referee was letting previous incidents influence his decision.

Ashley Young received an insanely soft yellow early on. A few minutes later he body-checked Angel di Maria into the crowd, an offense certainly worthy of a yellow. The referee let it go, maybe because he didn’t want to send him off or maybe because the first yellow was soft. Either way Young stayed on the pitch, deservedly on a yellow.

The same thing happened with Kimpembe. He wasn’t shown a second yellow for pulling down Rashford, which was far more than what Young did to Mbappe or what Pogba did to Veratti. But Kimpembe stays on. That’s the way the referee decided to call the game, so why the sudden switch on what was ultimately an unfortunate collision?

And again, if you want to show me the still shot I get it, but if you’re going to that, you have to acknowledge the still shot of Kimpembe’s elbow in Rashford’s face. It’s not one or other, it’s neither or both.

Consistency. That’s my issue.


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