We're big fans of Ricki Herbert, the Wellington Phoenix and the All Whites. But we can't agree with his comments in the wake of Winston Reid being red-carded in the dying moments of the All Whites' "friendly" against Paraguay at Wellington on Tuesday night.
Jonathan Millmow has written about Herbert's post-match reaction in today's Dom-Post. He opines:
Ricki Herbert should hang his head. Not because the All Whites lost 2-0 to Paraguay but because of his churlish behaviour.
He has watched his out-of-sorts defender Winston Reid near break a visitor's kneecap with the worst football tackle witnessed at Westpac Stadium and then pointed the finger at a young referee trying to make his way.
Herbert's post-match comments warrant further inspection from New Zealand Football and the least to come of this should be an apology to the Wellington official, Jamie Cross.
It is sickening to think that just moments after poor Federico Santander was being stretchered off, Herbert was trying to defend the indefensible.
Herbert seems to have tried to deflect criticism for the tackle away from Reid and towards the referee. In doing so, he has erred badly, in our always humble opinion. Reid's tackle was nasty, and the red card was completely deserved. Reid went in late, with his studs up and caught the Parguyan just below the knee. The outcome for Federic Santander could have been career-ending.
FWIW, we thought that young referee Jamie Cross had an excellent match, given that this was the biggest assignment of his career. The fact that the match was a friendly did not cloud his judgment on the Winston Reid decision, and that is exactly as it should be. A foul worthy of a red card is a foul no matter what the status of the match is. Cross' decision was in stark contrast to that of the gentleman who "controlled" the All Whites' pre-World Cup match against Australia in May where Leo Bertos was on the receiving end of two crude challenges just as bad as Reid's.
Ricki Herbert has had an amazing journey over the last twelve months. That this is the only blot on his copybook in that time is as remarkable as it is regrettable.