Wolves relegation battle in danger of being determined by poor refereeing
Wolves are ready to contest the dismissal of Matheus Nunes amid growing fears that poor refereeing decisions could determine the outcome of their relegation battle.
Nunes, an unused substitute in the 4-2 defeat to Leeds, faces a three-match ban after being sent off by referee Michael Salisbury for his protests following Leeds' fourth goal. Diego Costa, another substitute, had to hold Nunes back after the red card, with Wolves furious over a decision not to award a foul on Adama Traore in the build-up to Rodrigo’s goal.
Wolves are set to submit video evidence which they believe will prove Nunes did not commit violent conduct. Telegraph Sport understands that Nunes was provoked by a remark made by assistant linesman Gary Beswick.
The FA will wait to review Salisbury’s report before considering a probe into the stormy finale of Saturday’s crazy contest.
It has emerged, however, that Wolves are unlikely to appeal against the dismissal of defender Jonny, after reviewing the incident. Jonny was given a straight red card for a late studs-up challenge on Luke Ayling. Head coach Julen Lopetegui insisted after Saturday’s game that Wolves would contest it, but the club have dropped their plan to appeal.
Wolves remain deep in relegation trouble and Saturday was an excruciating afternoon for Lopetegui, whose patience has been tested by officials since his arrival in the Premier League.
If points were awarded retrospectively for poor refereeing decisions, Wolves would be well clear of the relegation zone. Lopetegui was only appointed in November but says he could write a book on the controversies he has endured so far.
The charge sheet and number of apologies from PGMOL chief Howard Webb are extensive: in January, Wolves were denied a late winner in the FA Cup tie at Liverpool as the Var had no camera angle to overturn the decision.
Later that month the club received an admission that referee Graham Scott should have awarded a penalty in the Carabao Cup tie at Nottingham Forest for a foul on Nunes.
During their victory over Southampton a month later, Mario Lemina was bizarrely dismissed for “running aggressively” at official Jarred Gillett, which the FA admitted was wrong.
Last weekend there was the inexplicable decision to not send off Newcastle goalkeeper Nick Pope for a foul on Raul Jimenez, or to award Wolves a penalty.
In the interests of balance, Wolves were fortunate on Saturday that defender Craig Dawson was not dismissed for a poor challenge on Jack Harrison.
In a relegation battle, refereeing standards really matter
By John Percy
Lopetegui says he still has faith in the officials, or he would walk away. The only positive for Wolves is that these injustices are building a siege mentality among players and supporters.
The wider issue is that the PGMOL are being continually let down by their officials. While there remain concerns over the efficacy of Var, refereeing standards in the Premier League and below are regularly causing problems.
Supporters across the country are spending too much time analysing referees and officials after matches. They are often becoming the story more than the players. Bile poured from the stands at Molineux after the final whistle as Salisbury and his staff walked off the field.
When the stakes are this high, and relegation could depend on one or two points going against teams, the quality has to be better.
Leeds supporters, meanwhile, were in jubilant mood after a victory which hoisted them out of the bottom three and into 14th place.
With Harrison, Max Wober and Robin Koch particularly standing out, it was a fine team performance which will give Javi Gracia encouragement for the weeks ahead.
Gracia was a surprise appointment, following the lengthy appointment process which followed the sacking of Jesse Marsch, but the performance at Wolves was evidence that the players are on board.