Belfast Telegraph

Pulis video plea after faulty red

West Brom boss Tony Pulis called for the greater use of technology after defender Gareth McAuley was mistakenly sent off in his side's 3-0 defeat at Manchester City.

McAuley was a victim of mistaken identity when he was shown a red card by referee Neil Swarbrick in the second minute at the Etihad Stadium after Craig Dawson fouled Wilfried Bony.

It was the second such controversy in the Barclays Premier League in space of three weeks and the third in a year after incidents involving Sunderland and Arsenal players. It also came on the same day as a red-card mix-up in the Sky Bet Championship, as Fulham's Cauley Woodrow was sent off against Huddersfield, only for referee Richard Clark to change his mind. Shaun Hutchinson was eventually dismissed amid chaotic scenes at the John Smith's Stadium.

Swarbrick quickly apologised for his error, in a statement from referees' body Professional Game Match Officials Ltd, but Pulis believes greater assistance is needed to avoid such critical mistakes.

Pulis said: "Refereeing is not easy, especially at the level we are at now and how quick the game is.

"This product is one of the greatest products this country now sells all over the world, but it is no good moaning about referees. What we have to do is find a way to help referees out.

"I would definitely call now for managers to have two calls each and every game, where there are 30 seconds and they can have a video link-up with people upstairs who can watch it on video.

"It will eradicate the major decisions referees are getting wrong that actually affect games of football. We have to work hard to do that in what is the greatest league in the world. The sooner that comes in the better."

Regardless of the identity issue, Pulis was incredulous the foul was deemed a red-card offence in the first place. He was also unhappy about an incident in the build-up to City's second goal.

Pulis said: "I watched the Wolves-Derby game last night and there was a very similar incident. The Wolves player stopped a player from going through, the ref gave a free-kick and didn't even book him.

"So, the inconsistency there is one thing - but once he decides it is a goalscoring opportunity and he has to send him off, I can't believe he has picked the wrong player. It is just beyond me.

"Then second goal, (Eliaquim) Mangala kicks Saido (Berahino) in the face. I think it is a poor decision.

"But we have to take it on the chin and move on. It is no good criticising and moaning about it. We have to find a way of improving it. That is my view. I think it is important we get an opportunity and a chance to help the referees."

With more than 88 minutes to play against 10 men, City took full advantage, cruising to a comfortable victory that will have done much for their morale after a difficult week.

City and their manager Manuel Pellegrini have been heavily criticised of late, with recent results leaving their title defence in tatters, while they also went out of the Champions League to Barcelona on Wednesday.

City struck in the first half through Wilfried Bony - his first goal for the club - and Fernando, with David Silva adding a third late on.

Pellegrini said: "Of course it is always important to return to get victory when you lost the last game. We lost the last two games in different competitions, Wednesday in the Champions League and the last game against Burnley in the Premier League.

"They played for 88 minutes with one player less but you do not always play well when you play with one player more. We were very concentrated on defending because with West Bromwich, you know all the teams of Tony Pulis defend well so it is not difficult for them to make counter-attacks when they have so fast players.

"We didn't allow them to have any chances but from one corner and we continued until the end of the game trying to score more goals."

The result cut Chelsea's lead at the top of the table to three points, but City have now played two games more.

Pellegrini said: "We are not thinking about that. We can win the last eight games but if Chelsea don't drop points, we cannot win the title.

"The important thing is not to think about other teams, it is to think about our team, to improve and win the next game against Crystal Palace."

On the game's moment of controversy, Pellegrini said: "He made a mistake about the player but the rule is very clear, unfortunately for West Bromwich. It is the last man. The referee has to do what the rule says."

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