Cristian Romero was branded “mad” and “crazy” after a horrific challenge on Newcastle United striker Callum Wilson somehow escaped a red card after a Var review during Tottenham Hotspur’s otherwise impressive display.
With Spurs leading 3-0 and in complete control against Newcastle, the centre-back took off with studs high, catching Wilson on the top of his boot and his shin pad. It looked like an obvious red-card offence but referee Chris Kavanagh only showed a yellow and was not told to look at the incident again by the Var Peter Bankes.
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe said he was “just relieved Wilson got up” after the challenge. He added: “I never like to see players being sent off but it looked high and reckless to me. Your heart is always in your mouth a little bit when one of your players goes down like that.”
As ever, the Newcastle manager, even in the aftermath of a chastising defeat, was calm and diplomatic, although there were scuffles between the players after the match, bad blood caused by goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario goading Wilson late on in the game.
"I don't think he'll learn. I think it's in him. Some players you can't tame them. He's one of those"
The Super Sunday panel discuss Cristian Romero's yellow card 🟨 pic.twitter.com/x6opwq33gx
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) December 10, 2023
But it was the Romero challenge that angered pundits. On Sky Sports Gary Neville said: “He’s mad, him, honestly. Absolutely mad. I think it’s a red card at first look. He’s crazy, Romero. He always has to tackle. Slowing players down doesn’t come into his head.
“For me, it’s a red. I have very little sympathy with him. He’s just gone straight over the ball into his ankle. He’s defenceless.”
That view was shared by colleague Jamie Redknapp who added: “It’s frightful. Some people will say he cares, but it’s just going to cost his team. He can play, he’s good on the ball technically, he reads the game well. But he makes rash decisions all the time. He’s vice-captain now so he has to set a good example.
“You can’t keep doing that. It’s a red card all day. I don’t think he’ll learn. He sees red and goes for it. With some players, you can’t tame them. He’s got that aggression in him and it makes him the player he is.
“Every time I watch him, I think he’s either going to give away a goal or cost his team with a sending off.”
Even the former Spurs defender Michael Dawson condemned the tackle, which risked what would have been Romero’s second dismissal of the season – and fifth of his Spurs career – after a red card against Chelsea just four games ago. “He plays on the edge. I thought it was stupid.
“There was no need to make the challenge as you’re 3-0 up and in cruise control. You’ve just come back from a suspension and there wasn’t any real needle in the game.
“He just goes over the top. When Chris Kavanagh gets the yellow card out, I was thinking they would go to Var. If he had got sent off, it would have been four games. He’s such a good player, but it’s not useful if you’re going to get sent off all the time.”
There was very little need for Spurs to lose their heads late on given the dominance of their victory but Wilson was incensed by Vicario’s behaviour too.
“The goalkeeper, I’ve had a header, he starts pulling faces and messing around and it’s a lack of respect, I thought. I’ve said my peace, we’re grown men and we move on.”
Comment: Romero lucky to escape red card – these dangerous tackles must be outlawed
Just when I was thinking that referee Chris Kavanagh was delivering a good performance in Tottenham’s win over Newcastle, along came the eye-watering challenge from Romero on Wilson which resulted in just a yellow card.
The Argentine lunged into his opponent at pace and threatened the safety of the Newcastle United player. The law is crystal clear that when a player exceeds the necessary force and endangers the safety of an opponent he must be sent off.
There is an increasing number of players missing from the game due to injury and this apparent lenient view currently taken by his referees on these types of challenges must be outlawed
The whole idea of the video assistant referee is to take another look and the issuing of the yellow card fulfilled the criteria of a clear and obvious error.
Why didn’t the Var for this game – Peter Bankes – send Kavanagh to the pitch-side monitor to take that valuable second look? Had he done that then I am sure a red card would have been shown
Bankes, who on Saturday officiated Manchester United vs Bournemouth, was at Stockley Park on Sunday with a bank screens in front of him to witness this foul challenge. Did fatigue play a part in this poor decision?
It is not the first time that Romero has transgressed. He has already been shown a red card this season, in the match with with Chelsea. Last season he accumulated 15 yellow cards, on two occasions there were double yellow cards resulting in his dismissal. He is a serial offender and to say he was a lucky boy to stay on the pitch is an understatement.
Whilst Howard Webb, the head of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited, is placing his point of emphasis on dissent, frankly he must sort out and ensure that these red-card challenges are dealt with correctly.