Mike Dean has insisted that Sir Alex Ferguson is not as intimidating as he would have perceived during his time as Manchester United manager.
The Premier League referee has opened up over his long career in football as he prepares to call time on his officiating at the end of the season. Dean will retire this summer after 22 years renowned as one of the most recognised referees in the game.
As well as being at the centre of some of the most controversial decisions, the Wirral-born ref has grown his own fame with his penchant for drama – including no-look cards, striking facial expressions and theatrical penalty-pointing. His long career has also meant he has built up relationships with some of the biggest names in football.
That includes Ferguson, who managed United for 27 years and winning 13 Premier League titles along the way. The Scotsman has always had a reputation for barraging officials, sometimes being accused of swaying decisions his side’s way with his aggressive aura.
But Dean has rubbished those claims and insisted that Arsene Wenger was much scarier than Fergie. When asked who was the most intimidating manager, he told BBC Sport : “”It has to be Arsene when he was at Arsenal.
“”I always found it tough, not refereeing Arsenal in general but refereeing Arsenal when he was the manager. It was just his presence – he wanted the best for Arsenal all the time and if he could get any way of getting one over you he would do.
“”Since he has finished football I have seen him and he has been great. Cross the white line and everyone is different, like referees. We are normal people.””
On Fergie, Dean added: “”He used to get a lot of stick saying he’d come in and bang the door down. He would come in now and then to express his views if something had gone really badly, but he wasn’t as bad as people made him out to be.””
Dean’s longstanding career has seen him collect several Premier League records along the way, including the most Premier League games officiated (553), most red cards (114) and most yellow cards (2,026). After pointing to the spot 184 times, he also has given the most penalties in the competition.
He added: “”To be at the top for 22 years. Players can be at the top for 22 years – not many but some. I have kept myself in pretty decent shape.
“”To be in the position I have been in for that long and refereeing the best lot of football ever, having the best seat in the house every week and not having to pay for it… it is ideal. I don’t know what I’ll be like in August.””
Flamboyant referee Mike Dean will be hanging up his whistle at the end of the season after 22 years of service to the sport where he has rubbed shoulders with the biggest names in the Premier League.