It’s not often that former Premier League midfielder Robbie Savage is held up as a beacon of considered punditry, but that’s the only conclusion to draw after Sunday’s events.
Newcastle United capitulated to a woeful 5-0 defeat against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium, with three of the goals coming after Magpies midfielder Isaac Hayden was shown a straight red card for a forceful challenge on Foxes star Dennis Praet.
The referee’s decision to dismiss the Englishman has produced a mixed response from both the public and the pundits within the game. However, it’s Savage who’s hit the nail on the head with his verdict on the incident.
“Never a red card – my opinion,” he said on BBC Radio 5 Live. “What on earth can Isaac Hayden do? If that is a red card, the game’s gone.”
Look, this isn’t a black and white sending off – no pun intended. You could see it both ways. Some people will feel that Hayden was reckless and could have done Praet serious damage. Others will view it similarly to Savage, as this writer does.
A yellow card should have been the result, here. As Savage says, what could Hayden have done differently? He won the ball initially, don’t forget, and, while that isn’t a failsafe in terms of avoiding a red card, it should count for something.
Once he’d won the ball, there was nowhere for him to go but into Praet. It simply wasn’t possible for him not to make contact with the Belgian after he’d won the ball from him.
We’re in danger of legislating contact out of a contact sport, if that is what’s considered a red card. Yes, it was forceful, and yes Praet took a bit of a bump. But Hayden won the ball and then simply couldn’t get out of the way. He shouldn’t have had his afternoon ended for that.