Case Study: Dean Does It Again

Case Study # 19-2013
Date 8 May 2013
Competition Barclays Premier League
Fixture/Result Chelsea 2 – 2 Tottenham Hotspur
Referee/Badge Mike Dean, FIFA
At Issue Mike Dean and crew put on (another) refereeing masterclass.

I admit it: I am a Michael Dean fan.  I celebrate the guy’s entire collection.  For my money, it doesn’t get any better than when he plays a good advantage.

Apologies to fans of the movie Office Space for taking liberties with one of the best lines from the cult classic.  But the fact is, Mike Dean and crew have had a fantastic season, capped off by another brilliant display in the Chelsea v Spurs tie at Stamford Bridge.

There were so many good moments from this match, I found it difficult to narrow it down to four.

Incident #1 – The Fourth Official spots a foul

In the eighth minute of the match, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard (#17) was making a strong run through the midfield.  He had already played through a foul from Spurs midfielder Scott Parker (for which Dean dutifully indicated advantage), and as he entered the attacking half of the field, played square to Juan Mata (#10).  As soon as he did, he continued his run forward, in anticipation of receiving a quick 1-2 in return.  Spurs midfielder Tom Huddlestone sensed this danger and stepped in front of Hazard, blocking his run and sending the Chelsea man to the floor.

Referee Dean did not see this as it was in his blind spot as he followed the ball.  However, one of the two referees on the home touch line (more likely 4th official Jon Moss, based on the angle) spotted the infraction and relayed the information to Dean, who turned, realized what had happened and blew for the foul.  Dean then acknowledged the good teamwork of his crew with an appreciatory thumbs-up.

Incident #2 – Another Brilliant Advantage

This play is so brilliantly done by Dean that I had to publish the video instead of just the frames.  I think the video speaks for itself, though I’ll add this it not the first time this season that an advantage played by Dean has led directly to a goal.  Interestingly, you’ll notice in the replay that Dean gives AR2 a thumbs up; my guess is that the AR said something to Dean over the radio about advantage being on.

Incident #3 – Alternative Positioning

In the 60th minute of the match, with Chelsea leading 2-1, Spurs won a free kick in the attacking half, near the corner in front of AR2 John Brooks.  Dean positioned himself as if it were a corner, and has he has done before this season, discarded conventional wisdom and set up on the goal line to get a better view of the action.  Nothing came of the free kick, but Dean’s alternative positioning demonstrates he is willing to take a risk to get a better look.  (I have to acknowledge that this is easier when you have a 4th official and radio communication between referees).

Incident #4 – More Help From the Fourth

In the second half, Chelsea were playing out of their defensive third when one of their backs executed a long switch, from left to right.  This switch left Referee Dean far away from the ball, but very close to the technical areas and 4th official Jon Moss.  Spurs midfielder Gareth Bale was late with a challenge on Chelsea right back Cesar Azpilicueta.  As Dean was at least 40 yards from the action, he depended on Moss for information, which was quickly and correctly provided.  Moss demonstrates proper form by not following the ball, but instead watching the players through the conclusion of contact.  Bale was correctly whistled for a late challenge, but Moss (correctly) determined the foul to be only careless, and therefore no misconduct was involved.

Dean even won praise from the commentary team during the match, with play-by-play announcer John Champion declaring at one point “not much bothers Mike Dean”.  This is exactly why Dean – along with fellow BPL referee Martin Atkinson – is one of my role models at the highest level of the game.  They both exude a calm, quiet demeanor, prefer to stay in the background, but are willing to make difficult decisions when called upon.

6 responses to “Case Study: Dean Does It Again”

  1. Note that in incident #3, all 11 Chelsea players are in the box. Taking the goal line in such a situation leaves Dean only 18 yards behind play on a quick counter. That is very different from situations where a team might have one or even two players closer to the center circle.


  2. I was refereeing today without assistants and I took the goal line position up on a couple of corners and it was truly a fantastic position. It allowed me to see everything (fouls, goals, who played it out etc).


  3. What is the BPL? Surely a site such as this would recognise that the British Isles have separate leagues?

    All in all a good review of a top referee, though.


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