I like Mike Dean when he's at his schoolmasterly best. When the game gets rough and the players start behaving like schoolboys, Dean rises well to the challenge, adopting the guise of Headmaster calming down his naughty charges and handing out cards like detention slips..
So it was on Sunday, when he showed two reds and half a dozen yellows during Arsenal's 2-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City. The crucial event was Dean's decision in the 10th minute to send off Laurent Koscielny for very obviously holding Edin Dzeko in the penalty area.
Dean ruled, quite rightly in my view, that Dzeko would have had a clear goalscoring opportunity if Koscielny hadn't wrapped his arms around the attacker and sent him off. True, it's rare for referees to send a player off for holding in the area but this was differenet as Dzeko could have got his head to the ball just a few yards out from goal.
I've seen it argued that Tevez getting his head to the ball somehow negates Dzeko's goal-scroing opportunity, but I don't see that as a relevant argument.
Dean's decision, correctly taken, had a deep effect on the game and soured the atmosphere. But that's not his fault. It's Koscielny's for committing the foul. Dean's calm in the face of such fury is to be admired.
Arsenal's players lost their composure after the sending off, and their anger didn't help them try to recover from the loss of a key player. In fact, Dean could have got his cards out even more frequently. The level of dissent from both sides was worrying.
But Dean sailed through it, his countenance firm, neutral and calm.
Ten minutes from time he was presented with another tricky decision when Man City Captain Vincent Kompany, who I usually like as a player, snapped into a challenge with both feet off the ground. I could clearly see the studs of both boots and I could also see both feet off the ground, albeit briefly.
Again, Dean refereed according to the Laws of the Game, which is all we are supposed to do, and sent him off.
How depressing to see Graham Poll arguing in the Daily Mail that Dean was seeking to even things up with Kompany's red card. Poll has confessed to having been influenced during his career by player behaviour. Today, Dean was his own man and made his own decisions.
I'll freely confess that, at normal speed, I thought the Arsenal player had committed the foul, but that's why Dean is where he is and why I'm reffing in the Kent County League. Replays clearly showed the two-footed foul by Kompany.
I'm sure Dean will come in for plenty of earache from Arsene Wenger, but he can go to bed tonight satisfied with an honest and impressive performance.