How about this: the next time Wayne Rooney argues with a match official, we’ll lock him up in a room with James Blunt and a guitar as punishment? Would that torture be fair enough?

After Manchester United’s 0-0 draw with Tottenham, former ref Graham Poll said in his column for the DailyMail that Rooney AND Nemanja Vidic should have been red-carded for remonstrating with officials.

So what if Rooney told Mike Dean to “f*** off”? Players in the EPL say that when they get fouled, when they miss a shot, when they score, when their teammates score, when have a sneeze, when they have a drink… Is it really THAT big a deal? What are they, pre-school kids?

I’m not condoning what Rooney did. He still needs to work on his temper, there’s no question about that. But I just think Poll is going on a bit of a witch-hunt here.


Dean’s yellow card to Rooney was more than enough to shut the player up. Rooney immediately realised how aggressive he was being, calmed down and walked away. That should’ve been the end of it. Five yellow cards a season, and Rooney will be suspended. A punishment befitting the crime. He’ll be careful not to repeat that mistake again and I’m sure his coaches will be reminding him about his yellow card count.

But NOOOOO…. Graham Poll in all his self-righteousness is now saying, with absolute conviction, that Rooney and Vidic, who shouted a few lines at the assistant ref for a call against him, should have been RED CARDED.

So the same punishment for making a dangerous, career-threatening tackle, or a foul to deny a goal-scoring opportunity, should be applied to a player who dares voice his disapproval of a refereeing decision?

Yes, disrespect towards a match official should be punished, but it should be sensible punishment. A little rant like Rooney’s deserves a yellow card, IMHO. Why would Poll insist that he needed to be sent off?

It’s football we’re talking about here. Emotions run high, and players are running on adrenaline. You can’t possibly expect them to have it all pent up inside.

And it’s not like Rooney was being all crazy like he was earlier in his career. I think common sense would dictate that the warning that comes with a yellow card would suffice. And if he kept going, then Dean could just give the idiot a second yellow.

Poll’s “magnus opus”

What I loved most was how important Poll fancies himself these days now that he’s a columnist. He wrote:

During United’s 4-2 win at Arsenal in February 2005, Rooney infamously swore at me 27 times in the first half alone. Yet I considered my performance in that match to be the finest in all of my 329 Premier League games.

Only now, having stepped away from refereeing, do I realise the damage I may have caused to the game in not sending Rooney off.

Awww… Rooney swore at you 27 times (only a prick, like the sycophant class monitor in primary school, would keep count of something like that) and you still had a good game?? Good boy!! How about a Scooby snack? Puh-leeze… Bask in your past “glories” some place else.

First of all, is it just me or is it weird that this guy rates his performances? I’d imagine that if a referee was asked which match he was most proud of, the right thing to say would be that he doesn’t dwell on his performance in any particular game since it should be all about the football, and that every match is the same and you just try to do your best. The best performance a referee can give should be one where everyone doesn’t remember the ref right? So I find it odd that Poll would think of the games he officiated in that manner.

Secondly, does this guy really think he had the power to save football from “damage”? Don’t be silly. Referees’ decisions should be based solely on what’s happening on the field of play, not some sense of the greater good of football. If that’s the case, all referees should send off Ashley Cole the minute he steps on the field because he gives football a bad image.


Poll goes on to say that the “Respect” for referees campaign has failed. It hasn’t. Gone are the days when Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira, Paolo DiCanio and Dennis Wise would argue with match officials like madmen about to tear someone’s head off. Players now just talk back a bit, maybe some get a little agitated and use a couple of swear words, but nothing more. Even Rooney’s temper wasn’t what it used to be.

But that’s not enough for Poll. Referees should be respected like one of those sad creatures on a Gordon Ramsay show. That’s just not a realistic expectation.

Referees are the ones always saying that they can’t be perfect, and there will always be human error, so people should cut them some slack. But the same should be applied to players – they’re not robots. As professional as they try to be, the minute you’re in the heat of battle on the pitch, it’s hard to keep your emotions in check.

So Graham Poll, quit your witch-hunt. Rooney’s temper has slowly but surely improved over the years, and for you to paint a picture of him as some enemy of football is just wrong.



May I also add that Rafael da Silva, unlike Rooney, DESERVES punishment for the way he reacted to his red-card. He was all eyes-bulging and aggro towards the referee, and kicked out at a TV microphone on his way off the field. The FA have charged him for improper conduct, and he should just accept the charge. I’m sure he’ll learn from this, though.

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