by Liam McGowan
‘Cheat’ is not a word that comes to mind when one considers Darren Fletcher.
But that, in effect, is exactly how the Manchester United midfielder has been unjustly brandished this week- not for the first time this year- reigniting an age-old debate over the ruling that yellow cards can not be appealed.
Sir Alex Ferguson was outraged by the decision and poured criticism without dilution on the referee at what he called ” one of the worst decisions I have seen in my life”. Although no stranger to overstatements at times, Ferguson’s reaction in this case was echoed by many.
In any case, this was an appalling error of judgment by the official. Even other referees, usually notable in their solidarity and support for their colleagues, stood out in their support of the United player’s innocence. Ex premiership ref Graham Poll expressed a sense of injustice shared by many in the footballing community. In his column for the Daily Mail, he wrote: “Fletcher is one of the most decent players in the game and to see him cautioned for diving on Tuesday evening was a slur on this honest professional footballer.To argue that he deserved some payback for his combative style is nonsensical”.
And, owing to UEFA’s strict and ,somewhat dubious, stance on appeals, dents made to Fletcher’s character are currently irrevocable. Ferguson has also called for UEFA’s stance on this ruling to be revised. Both the manager and the player have every right to feel incensed at what has happened, especially in light of the fact that Ferguson and Fletcher have both fell victim to the rules in a similar vein in the past.
Uefa should have revised this rule many years ago. If it is not revised now, it will be insult added to longstanding injury.