Darren Fletcher gives his verdict on mistaken identity red card

The former Manchester United midfielder was baffled by the decision to send off Gareth McAuley, suggesting it killed the game against Manchester City.

West Bromwich Albion midfielder Darren Fletcher said the decision to send off Gareth McAuley against Manchester City on Saturday killed the game. 

McAuley was seemingly the victim of mistaken identity in the early stages of the 3-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium, when referee Neil Swarbrick dismissed the defender for a foul that Craig Dawson committed on Wilfried Bony.

Fletcher said he had a lot of sympathy for McAuley, telling the official West Bromwich Albion website: “There was a mistaken identity, one is about ten years older than the other but maybe the referee thought they looked similar.

“In the old days refs would just say let me see your number.

“He red-carded the wrong player, but he took his time so in that respect it wasn’t a rash decision.

“I thought he was taking his time and would realise that it wasn’t a clear red card, but no.

“If you look at Bony’s reaction he tries to play on, the sending off just kills the game and as soon as we conceded the first goal we knew it was going to be really difficult.”

It's hard not to envisage the Baggies appealing the red card, especially given the reaction of Head Coach Tony Pulis on the sidelines when the red card was issued.

It was hard to see the side get anything for their efforts from that moment on in the game. They may have faced a side that was a little low on confidence, but one full of immense quality, and trying to hold out for a draw for so long under those circumstances was always going to be a difficult task - if they had managed to pull it off it would have been heroic.

One other issue is going to be whether Swarbrick will receive a high profile game after the international break, with those in charge of referees possibly taking the official out of the firing line after such a glaring error.

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