A FURIOUS Karl Robinson has pleaded for more protection for his players after two “horrific” challenges went unpunished in Dons’ match against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.
The manager has sent video evidence of the incidents to the Football Association following challenges on Stephen Gleeson and former Owls player Darren Potter, which Robinson described as “career threatening”.
He also questioned the sending off of striker Jabo Ibehre in the final minute at Hillsborough.
After showing the video dossier to the Citizen, Robinson said: “I don’t want to come across as a petulant manager who is doing this because we lost. The result is irrelevant.
“The challenges we’re having to endure are career threatening. I just want the referees to realise there are two teams in the game.
“Referees have a job to do, and I respect them, and get on with most of them quite well. It’s the most difficult job in the industry – ours are much easier.
“It’s one I’d never like myself, but something they have to take on when they become a referee is being open to criticism.
“There’s no personal vendetta, I’d never dream of personally attacking anyone, but I’ve got to protect my players. I don’t mind bad mistakes, but I can’t accept it when my players’ careers are being threatened.
“The tackles on Gleeson and Potter are horrific. I’d love for someone to come back to me on how he’s missed it.”
Incredibly, referee Phil Gibbs was stood less than 10 yards away from Potter and Jermaine Johnson when the Wednesday man caught Potter above his knee, leaving a long cut down the midfielder’s leg, to his shin.
However, Gibbs didn’t award a free-kick, but a Dons throw. And incidentally, Johnson did see red on Tuesday night as Wednesday were thrashed 5-1 by Stevenage.
“I was furious,” said Robinson. “Darren waited in the tunnel for the referee, with a scar from his knee down his shin. He asked the referee how it wasn’t a foul. The answer he got was ‘go into your dressing room.’ And the fourth official is stood there mic’ed up – what are they doing?”
However, the Dons boss is not pointing the finger at Sheffield Wednesday, nor at his opposite number Gary Megson.
“This is nothing to do with Sheffield Wednesday, but down to officials who need to protect these types of players,” he said.
“It wasn’t Gary Megson’s job to tell his players not to do that. That’s up to the referee. That’s what they’re there for.”
The video evidence presented to the FA also questions Ibehre’s second booking, coming just 30 seconds from time on Saturday.
The Dons forward appeared to barely touch keeper Richard O’Donnell as he picked up the ball, and despite no appeal from the Wednesday players or fans behind the goal, the assistant referee flagged, and referee Gibbs issued Ibhere with his marching orders.
“It was laughable. I still don’t know what they’ve seen,” added Robinson. “The assistant has seen something that no one else has seen, and no one else will see it because there was nothing there to see.
“In our last two visits up to Hillsborough we’ve had three men sent off and two players take career threatening tackles.”
An ongoing debate in football is whether referees should speak to the media in the aftermath of matches in a similar way managers are expected to. And Robinson believes that it would work out better for all parties if they were to face the media to explain themselves.
“We have a duty of care to the media and to the fans to come out and talk to you,” Robinson said. “So should the officials.
“They say it to us after the games, but I can’t come out and tell you that, because that’s seen as saying something against the referee.
“The fans deserve the truth. If someone gets it wrong, why can’t he come out and say he got it wrong? If we get a question about a decision, all we’d need to say is ‘the referee will explain that one’ and it saves managers getting in trouble, and the club from getting fined.”
The video evidence sent to the FA this week is unlikely to bring any disciplinary action against Johnson or for Julian Bennett following his similarly reckless challenges on Stephen Gleeson.
But Robinson hopes that it acts as a reminder to referees that players need protection when they go onto the field.
“Please, protect these kids,” Robinson pleaded. “They just want to play football in the right way. I don’t feel they are getting that protection.”