Lee Cattermole was left out of the squad to face Arsenal because Gus Poyet couldn't feel he could trust referee Andre Marriner to treat him fairly.
Speaking to reporters following the 4-1 defeat at the Emirates, the Uruguayan was remarkably open and frank over the matter, and it was tough to know who really came out of it worse between his player and the Birmingham-born official. Poyet said:
Unfortunately for me, it was the only decision I could control.
I don't want to say something to get me fined, but for me the referee was one who normally sends Lee Cattermole off. Add to that the fact we were away to Arsenal - I am sure if we were to go two or three goals down, Lee is not the sort of player to have in the middle.
If there is one player starting next week, it is Lee Cattermole. The rest at the moment are substitutes.
I think this mini-rant from Poyet bellies an element of mistrust with Cattermole - and I think it's one we all share - but it's more likely that this is the fallout from the player's red card at Hull earlier in the season.
Marriner sent off Cattermole that day for essentially being Lee Cattermole. It was as soft as they come and for a far nicer challenge than one for which the Tigers' Robbie Brady was later cautioned. Poyet was very vocally annoyed by it after the game, and with good reason. There was more than a hint of reputation's ruling the ref that day.
The midfielder has also been given his marching orders once before by Marriner - in 2010 in a 1-1 draw with Wigan, on that occasion for two yellow cards.
I do kind of see Poyet's point here. You don't have to consider Marriner a bad referee to note that he is a card-happy one, and given what happened at the KC Arena it seems one marginally mistimed challenge would have been enough to put Cattermole out of the cup final, which would have been a disaster given Liam Bridcutt's unavailability.
But it is a little worrying that a manager doesn't feel like he can trust a particular referee to give his players a fair hearing. Whether or not Poyet should have risked a fine by voicing those concerns is another matter entirely, of course.