REFEREE Craig Pawson got all the key decisions right against Chelsea, says Palace fan ALISDAIR KEMP, who blames Neil Warnock and Damien Delaney for Saturday's defeat...
THE abuse and derision directed at Saturday's referee Craig Pawson during the Chelsea game from fans – and Neil Warnock post-match – were embarrassing to say the least.
There is an operative word in the phrase "man in the middle", namely the word which implies humanity, or human nature. Referees will naturally make mistakes but the most galling aspect of Saturday's critiques of Pawson was that he was spot on with every decision.
It takes some audacity, first and foremost, for a fan hurling insults at the referee to just assume that they have a better view of a given incident from the stands than the official who is mere yards away. On the – honestly – rare occasions their decisions are erroneous, they are hardly deliberate, so some of the vitriol that subsequently emanates from the stands always bemuses me.
Taking the Chelsea game as an example, at one point during the first half the invective pouring down from the terraces was so vociferous and Neanderthal it was cringeworthy. Such behaviour is both unbecoming and not what I've come to expect from Palace fans.
The underlying irony, of course, is that the decisions prompting this response from the fans were entirely correct.
Warnock asserted that John Terry deserved a yellow card for a challenge he claimed was no different from the one that yielded Damien Delaney's first caution. Wrong – Terry's challenge was a split second late and not dangerous. Delaney's on Loic Remy was woefully late and – had Remy not vaulted over it – could have had alarming consequences.
There was also scorn poured from fans and manager alike over the awarding of the free-kick from which Oscar scored. Wrong – this was yet more clumsiness and rashness from Delaney; trying to steal the ball from behind in a dangerous area to concede a set-piece.
Furthermore, referee Pawson was proficient at keeping up with play, demonstrated assured calmness in the melee following Cesar Azpilicueta's dismissal and generally allowed the game to flow. It was a superb performance that merited better than the mindless abuse he received.
Fans' anger would have been better directed at Delaney for the foolish foul that led to the first goal and the sheer mindlessness of the tug on Remy that prompted a red card. Having gained a man advantage against the best team in the league, the stupidity of Delaney's actions was immeasurable. His teammates must have been irate with him as he let them down massively.
As for Warnock's comments, they were a transparent attempt at deflecting attention from his poor second-half tactical decisions. Relieving James McArthur from the superb man-marking job that he was executing on Cesc Fabregas and moving him to an unfamiliar right-back role single-handedly led to Chelsea's second goal.
As for deploying Yannick Bolasie up front at the end, your guess is as good as mine.