Stoke boss Mark Hughes was in predictably whingy form as he declared that referees who make mistakes are rubbish season-spoiling heathens. Unless, of course, those mistakes go in his team's favour. Then it's 'a break' and a matter of 'interpretation'.
Hughes was incensed at Robert Madley's decision to show Steven N'Zonzi a second yellow card for a tug on Jozy Altidore as the American was headed for goal. He said:
Unfortunately on too many occasions this season, we have been hurt by refereeing decisions that have had a marked effect on the outcome of the game.
We are talking once again about a situation that I feel was a poor decision from the referee.
It was difficult for him because I felt the lad Altidore went down very easily looking for an advantage and I felt on the night, too much of that was going on, to be perfectly honest.
The referee has got to be able to look through that and understand what is happening. He wasn't very good in that regard and as a consequence, he bought a challenge where there was very minimal contact.
The lad went down easily and the referee deemed fit to give Steven a second yellow card for that challenge, which is unbelievable from my point of view.
I was really pleased with how we played, but there are too many occasions where we are having mountains to climb to enable us to win football matches.
All we ask is that we have a level playing field and the key decisions are made correctly because when you have two sides going against each other, you want the best team to win and unfortunately, the best team didn't win.
It was probably a soft second yellow card, but it was the correct decision. Altidore was running clear of the Stoke defence on the counter attack and, whilst N'Zonzi didn't do much wrong, he did enough to warrant the foul. If it was a foul, it follows that it was a card.
I can certainly sympathise with Stoke a little as they played very well on the night and we'd be gutted if we had played that well without reward, but those are 'the breaks', Mark. You know, like the 'break' you got when the same referee gave Stoke a ludicrously soft last-minute penalty at Swansea this season? Allow me to refresh some memories:
I've seen it and I can understand to a certain extent why Swansea feel aggrieved. Those things go for you or against you and we're grateful we maybe got a break.
Note, that when the exact same referee makes a mistake from which Stoke benefit, it's not a case of a lack of 'understanding' or some nasty man conning him. It doesn't even get described as poor or a mistake at all. Funny that.
I'd also be a little careful about throwing around accusations of deliberately conning the referee if I was Hughes. He was one of just about the only two people in the entire northern hemisphere who claimed Wes Brown's red card at Stoke this season was justified (interpretation, apparently. Definitely, DEFINITELY not a refereeing mistake. They don't happen when Stoke benefit).
However, Charlie Adam was barely touched and stayed on his feet - until, as explained by John O'Shea, Hughes and the Stoke bench told him to go down:
Wes has clearly won the ball. I don't think he even touched Adam. The reaction from Charlie could have been a bit better. I think it's the reaction of their bench the ref has gone on, to be honest.
Ah well, I guess Hughes isn't all that happy about the decision in the reverse fixture at the Stadium of Light. He has probably moaned so much since that game in November that he has bored himself into a coma and forgotten everything that transpired before it.
I have sympathy for the Stoke fans and players, because their side played very well and on the balance of play deserved something from the game. Hughes on the other hand, well we'll extend to him the same sympathy he offered us.
I believe it goes a little something like this: 'Even before the sending off we were 1-0 up. Stoke might have looked good in the second-half but they were down to 10 men and had nothing to lose and could just go for it.'
Football is fun when a little bit of karma comes back to bite berks on the backside.