Following Nathaniel Chalobah’s game-changing red on the weekend, Drew looks at five other blood-boiling dismissals.
We had a 15-day run-up to Saturday’s clash with Newcastle. And the question on everyone’s lips was ‘who will fill in for Joao Palhinha?’. I always thought Silva would plump for Nathaniel Chalobah – the ex-Watford midfielder is Silva’s guy, after all. But when handed the baton, “Natty Chabs” (as Jack Kelly will never call him again) dropped it almost immediately, getting an early bath after a reckless challenge.
It’s not the first Fulham red to get us all screaming – and it won’t be the last. But as we lick our wounds, here are five other recent exasperating dismissals.
Tim Ream v Manchester City
First up is another early red. They can kill a game before they’ve even really started – and that has never rang more true than when we started our FA Cup journey against the holders in their own backyard.
Ream’s red came after just six minutes – two earlier than Chalobah. The American brought down Jesus in the box, and Gundogan dispatched the resulting penalty. City went on to win 4-0 and we were promptly dumped out of the competition. It was Ream’s first (and so far only) red in his career, and Fulham’s 140th.
Joachim Andersen v Newcastle United
This one was enraging – but it wasn’t Joa’s fault.
With a little more than an hour gone, Callum Wilson broke away from Andersen after a fine ball from Almiron. As Joachim gave chase and the pair approached the box, Wilson went down like he was shot. Incredibly, the referee gave a penalty despite a VAR check, and Wilson himself rifled past Areola to make it 1-1 on the night, which is how it ended.
The point pulled us out of the relegation zone – our third draw in as many games – but it could’ve been a different story in terms of points on the board and momentum if the officials had done their job properly.
Andersen was vindicated days later, when his one-match ban was overturned, but the damage was done.
Steve Sidwell v Arsenal
The original Ginger Iniesta saw red in the West London derby after a late lunge on Armand Traore, but the Whites picked up all three points, so he could be forgiven.
But incredibly, just 19 days later, and 12 minutes into his return, he was sent off again! This time for a bad challenge on Arsenal midfielder (and now manager, of course) Mikel Arteta. This time, he’d get short shrift from the fans as despite holding off an onslaught, we still fell 1-0 to the Gunners.
Marek Rodak v Middlesbrough
At the start of the 2019/20 campaign, fans were clamouring for a changing of the guard in goal. Marcus Bettinelli had been handed the number one spot after spending the majority of the previous season playing second fiddle to Sergio Rico, but Marek Rodak was waiting in the wings, having impressed on loan at Rotherham, despite their relegation to League One.
Following a defeat at Stoke that left us languishing in 10th position, Parker pulled the plug on Betts and brought Rodak in for a 3-2 against Luton at the Cottage. Great, we all thought.Embed from Getty Images
But on only his second full league appearance, Rodak saw red after handling outside the area in the first 20 minuts. Luckily, Betts came in and helped us to a 0-0 draw. It was just so frustrating as we were all desperate for Marek to come in and immediately cement his position. He eventually did, returning against Birmingham the following month, and keeping his spot for the remainder of the campaign as we beat Brentford to win the play-off final.
Zoltan Gera v Arsenal
A sending off in the final match of the season where – on the surface – not much was at stake might seem like a strange one to feature. But Gera’s red in this game threatened to end our hopes of Europa League qualification.
We went into the final day hoping to score a record-equalling seventh-placed finish, but the real route to Europe was through the fair play league. All was looking well on both fronts with just 15 minutes left; we were winning 2-1 thanks to goals from Sidwell and Zamora. But then Gera – only one for five minutes – was sent off for a two-footed challenge on Thomas Vermalen. It was our first and only red of the season.
Theo Walcott equalised for Arsenal in the 89th minute and we had an agonising four-day wait for the fair play table to update. Luckily, we qualified ahead of Blackpool by just 0.01 points.