Howard Webb: Mike Dean's Sofiane Feghouli red card understandable

Former referee Howard Webb has said he can understand Mike Dean's decision to show Sofiane Feghouli a straight red card in West Ham's 2-0 defeat at home to Manchester United on Monday.

Dean faced heavy criticism after dismissing Feghouli in the 15th minute for his challenge on Phil Jones, with West Ham boss Slaven Bilic arguing that his player should not even have been booked and that the United defender's challenge was "the more dangerous one."

Sky Sports' pundits were heavily critical of Dean after the game, with Niall Quinn saying the referee got the decision "disgracefully wrong" and Alan Smith adding: "You don't like to say it -- I wouldn't want to believe that of any referee -- but it's almost like he wants to be the centre of attention." Gary Neville also said Dean "had a really poor day."

Webb, though, said in his Times column that the tackle was only worthy of a booking but he could understand Dean's reaction.

"It was the type of tackle that can involve excessive force and at full speed you could see why it could look like serious foul play," he said.

"I wouldn't want to castigate Mike for making the decision he did -- at full speed it looks worse. When a player leaves the ground like that and makes late and heavy contact he is going to risk getting sent off."

He also said Bilic was wrong to argue that Jones' tackle was more dangerous, saying: "Jones stretches in the direction of the ball, with his left leg tucked up. He doesn't leave the ground, whereas Feghouli jumps in and gets there late. However, his studs are down, his legs are bent and he doesn't lead with two feet, so for those reasons I think it should have been a yellow."

In the Daily Mail, fellow former referee Graham Poll was more critical.

"Mike Dean was wrong to dismiss Sofiane Feghouli and West Ham fans deserved better than to have to watch their side reduced to 10 men so early on," he wrote. "Perhaps from Dean's angle it looked like Feghouli went in with one set of studs leading and Jones' reaction didn't help.

"Replays showed that both players were equally culpable as Jones wrapped his legs around Feghouli's. Such decisions are crucial and Dean, one of the select group's most experienced referees, knows that."

Poll, who acknowledged that he had a reputation for seeking attention during his refereeing career, warned that Dean must be wary.

"Referees aren't on the field to be popular," he said. "They are there to show the courage of their convictions and give what they see. They are also not supposed to guess or appear to seek the limelight.

"Dean, as I wrote after his last game, is the referee happiest to take the biggest decisions and this was no exception. He will have believed he was right but when he watches this back he will know and accept that he was wrong."