On Tuesday, the FA published the written reasons for Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino’s two-game suspension.
The Argentine was banned and fined £10,000 after an altercation with referee Mike Dean following Spurs’ 2-1 loss to Burnley at Turf Moor over a week ago. Pochettino served the first game of his ban on Saturday, as his side again tasted defeat, this time against Southampton.
Dean, via Daily Mail, alleged in his post-match report that, following the game, Pochettino said “you know what you are” towards him numerous times, before again repeating the words in the tunnel.
The referee’s version of events reads thus: “At the conclusion of the game I was approached on the field of play by the Tottenham Hotspur head coach Mauricio Pochettino and some members of his coaching staff including first team coach Jesus Perez.
“Mr Pochettino acted in a very irresponsible and aggresive (sic) manner. He wouldn’t stop saying “you know what you are, you know what you are”. I asked him to explain and he repeated: “you know what you are”.
“I then said on numerous occasions to go away, at least 10 times, and he wouldn’t get out of my personnel (sic) space and then aggresively (sic) pointed his finger just a few inches from my face again saying “you know what you are”.
“Mr Pochettino then left me alone and left the field of play. When I reached the tunnel he was waiting at the top of the stairs again saying “you know what you are” and had to be escorted to the dressing room by security staff from Burnley.”
This is all well and good. Pochettino’s behaviour, he accepts, was not proper and he has repeatedly apologised for his role in the fracas.
However, Dean’s account appears to leave out some important details. The replays after the game showed Pochettino shaking hands with the official and walking away, only to turn and confront him, his demeanour having changed. It certainly appeared that Dean said something towards the Spurs manager that infuriated him.
His assistant, Perez, was caught on camera telling Dean: “You can’t say that.”
Now, of course, there has been much social media mirth surrounding what the referee may have said but it is important and his words should be made public.
This is not to deny that Pochettino did wrong; the man himself accepts that.
But we cannot be forced to accept one side of the story. There is a lack of trust in match officials right now and it does appear as though the FA have closed ranks around one of their top referees.
Perhaps that is understandable, given that they are all too often abused at every level of the game.
But Dean should do his bit to restore some faith in his profession by coming out and admitting what he said. The idea that he was merely saying “go away” is a farcical one; anyone in doubt merely needs to look at the footage of the incident.
For the interests of clarity and fairness, fans deserve to know what was really said.