Before I start, let me just say that I’m a huge fan of Gary Neville’s and it’s not often I disagree with him but regarding the Mane challenge, in my opinion, he is 100% wrong.
Yes, football is a game of interpretation, which is why video technology will be hard to implement, but when someone gets kicked in the head, intentional or not, it’s a red card and it’s that simple.
The reason that I’ve targeted Gary Neville is because of his passionate defence of Mane, and his adamancy that it should never have been a red card. I’ve been following his Twitter posts regarding this too, so let me just pick some holes in his argument.
Let me just point out that there is no confusion whatsoever. A high foot challenge will always endanger an opponent, but the difference between it being a red card or not is simply connection – as with any challenge. If it’s a 50/50, and the player lunges in and misses the ball and takes the man, it’s a red card. If he lunges in and misses the player, there’s a good chance nothing will be given.
Despite the strong title of the article, I see where Gary is coming from, and another referee on another day may have seen it differently. My first thought was yellow card, as most people in the ground did too, but on replay I really can’t understand how you can argue against a red. It also begs the question what the outcome would have been if there was video technology, my feeling is that the outcome would have been no different.
High foot challenges, along with offsides, handballs and numerous other things are somewhat of a grey area in officiating but at the end of the day, if you kick someone in the head – whether you mean it or not – you have to walk. Sorry, Gary!
Was Mane a red card, yellow card, or just a free-kick? Let me know what you think @zefutbolwriter