Former and current players from the likes of Stoke City, Bolton Wanderers, Crystal Palace, Liverpool, Birmingham City, Sunderland, Arsenal and Manchester City do not feel Nemanja Vidic should have seen red this evening.
Before we begin - Manchester United were abject today and the decisions of a referee had absolutely no impact on what was a poor performance from the champions, as Chelsea put them to the sword in a 3-1 humbling at Stamford Bridge.
But there were two challenges late on that seemed to let the former pros of the game vent their frustrations against a referee who has gained a reputation of being universally unpopular.
Phil Dowd’s decision to send off Nemanja Vidic in added time, well I missed it first time around as I took a bite out of my mini-roll (other cake based confectioneries are available) but as I looked up I saw the red card about to be brandished.
Now before I ducked down for a bite of chocolaty goodness Hazard was on the rampage again, and when I heard my company shout ‘that’s a red card’, I thought Vidic had punched him - finally the Serbian defender had cracked.
But in fact he had put in what looked like a pretty soft red card tackle.
It wasn’t double footed, it wasn’t ‘studs showing’, wasn’t last man and Vidic didn’t take his shirt off before he slid in.
But on another viewing you realise that he also had no intent of playing the ball and his intent was too hurt Hazard - and nothing else.
Was it stupid? Yes. Was a red card harsh? Yes. But he almost deserves the red for the petulance of it all.
Thankfully, the ever helpful Rafael Da Silva was on hand to demonstrate to everyone the perfect red-card challenge moments later. His two footed lunge on Gary Cahill was truly horrendous. One planted foot more and Cahill has a broken leg - and Rafael received just a yellow card - which now renders retrospective action out of the question because of the FA’s continually bizarre rules and regulations.
When you compare the two, so close together, you soon realise that Vidic’s was not a red - and that Dowd got it absolutely wrong.
And the professionals seem to agree.
Plenty of former and current players took to Twitter in defence of Vidic after the challenge - even some of those usually quite quiet on the web…
Wow, that Vidic challenge has never been a red card.— Asmir Begovic (@asmir1) January 19, 2014
That is not a red card. #phildowdlookatmeimsoimportant— Matt Lawrence (@mattyjlawrence) January 19, 2014
Never ever a red card— Robbie Savage (@RobbieSavage8) January 19, 2014
Bad day for united. Vidic sending off debatable but Rafael should of been sent off no doubt— Danny Higginbotham (@Higginbotham05) January 19, 2014
Rafael's tackle worse than Vidic. Chelsea looking like a well oiled machine under The Special One— Kevin Davies (@Kevin__Davies) January 19, 2014
That was never a red card for Vidic— Didi Hamann (@DietmarHamann) January 19, 2014
But Chelsea FC disagrees - here is how they summed it up on their official Twitter account…
Nemanja Vidic is sent off for a cynical trip on Hazard as the Belgian broke at pace. United down to 10 men.#CFCLive— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) January 19, 2014
image: © nasmac