Mike Dean has admitted that he was wrong not to advise referee Anthony Taylor to look at Cristian Romero’s hair pull on Marc Cucurella during Sunday’s bad-tempered London derby between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea.
Having hung up his whistle to become a full-time Video Assistant Referee this season, Dean was on duty at Stamford Bridge last weekend where manager Antonio Conte and Thomas Tuchel clashed and late drama saw Harry Kane score an injury-time equaliser.
However, in the moments before Kane’s header found the back of Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy’s net, Romero was seen to grab Cucurella by the hair and pull him to the turf.
Dean spotted the incident live and reviewed the footage, but advised Taylor to play on as in his opinion it did not warrant a red card.
Having had days to dwell on the flashpoint, Dean has admitted that doubts very quickly emerged in his own mind. “Sometimes in hindsight, you realise you could have acted differently,” he said in a column for the Daily Mail.
“I asked referee Anthony Taylor to wait while I looked at the incident involving Tottenham’s Cristian Romero and Chelsea’s Marc Cucurella.
“I could not award a free-kick as Var, but I could recommend to Taylor that he visit the referee review area to consider possible red card. In the few seconds I had to study Romero pulling Cucurella’s hair, I didn't deem it a violent act.”
Tuchel was incensed by the incident and accused referee Taylor of bias decision-making after the match, hitting out at the decision to allow Kane’s goal as well as the first from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg despite a possible foul from Rodrigo Bentancur on Kai Havertz and a potential Richarlison own-goal.
Dean reiterated that he was right not to chalk off Hojbjerg’s goal, but conceded he was wrong to allow Kane’s late effort.
“I’ve since studied the footage, spoken to other referees and, upon reflection, I should have asked Taylor to visit his pitch-side monitor to take a look for himself,” Dean said.
“The referee on field always has the final say. It goes to show that no matter how experienced you are, and I’ve spent more than two decades as a Premier League official, you are always learning.”