Martin Smith column: Mike Dean and his famous pout

Manchester United's Phil Jones (centre left) complains to referee Mike Dean. Pic John Walton/PA Wire.
Manchester United's Phil Jones (centre left) complains to referee Mike Dean. Pic John Walton/PA Wire.
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It can all get a bit too much at this time of year.

Three games in eight days behind us, the force-feeding and serial supping we so looked forward to just a few days ago now a worrying wobble around our middles.

There are those x-rated Christmas bills to pay, there’s no sign of the sunrise until around 8am and dark again at half three.

If April is the cruellest month, the leafless wasteland of January has to be the bleakest.

At least we can all share the glorious release of shouting at referee Mike Dean’s perennial pout on Match Of The Day.

He’s so annoying that in the end you just have to try to feel sorry for him.

Otherwise it gets unhealthy.

So let’s be positive in 2017.

Around this time last year this column called for a National Be Nice To Referees Week. We need one now even more than we did then.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary a referee is: “An official who watches a game or match closely to ensure that the rules are adhered to and (in some sports) to arbitrate on matters arising from the play.”

Does that sound much like the referees that we see on our grounds and screens?

Soon we’ll have the big decisions made by beaks in the stands watching TV replays that will make the on-field officials look even worse.

Whither Dean’s doleful mug then?

Presumably he’ll stand, lips pursed, one hand on hip, the other touching his ear-piece and staring into the middle distance waiting for the word from the ninth official.

Then when the decision comes through and half the players go ballistic he will point to his ear, shrug his shoulders and produce his new ‘Replay Says No’ face.

We’ve all got to be looking forward to that, surely?

Speaking of referees, Rotherham’s Howard Webb comes over as a serious, thoughtful and quite intense figure in his role as TV ref on Sky’s football coverage.

The former world number one official doesn’t bow to the ex-pros in the studio any more than he did when he was on the pitch and his comments are always illuminating and scrupulously honest.

In a few years time Mike Dean might be doing a similar studio shift somewhere when no doubt we’ll discover that he too is a decent bloke trying to do an impossible job.

How bleak a prospect is that?