By George Overhill

3rd Oct, 2022 | 8:10pm

Dermot Gallagher caught in mess over Virgil van Dijk vs Everton after Emerson Royal vs Arsenal

Dermot Gallagher undercut his own explanation for why Virgil van Dijk wasn’t sent off against Everton in his analysis of Emerson Royal’s red card this weekend.

The Tottenham defender received a straight red card from Anthony Taylor for a challenge on Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli in the North London derby on Saturday (1 October), which was upheld by VAR and supported by Gallagher on Sky Sports on Monday.

He claimed officials have worked to clamp down on contact above the ankle with the studs all season, despite deciding that van Dijk was rightly only shown yellow from the same referee for a own foul which matched that description on Amadou Onana on 3 September [Sky Sports, 6 September].

At the time he had ignored the fact that the Dutchman had made contact with the studs above the ankle, insisting that the “maximum impact” was on the foot.

But speaking on the latest Ref Watch segment on Sky Sports (3 October) he undercut the previous explanation, saying of Royal’s red: “Contact above the ankle with the studs, this is what they’ve worked on all season. I thought it was inevitable that he was going to get a red card.”

Presenter Rob Wootton immediately picked up the contradiction and questioned the word “inevitable”.

Gallagher went on: “I thought it was, seeing that, because that’s what we’ve seen this season…”

“Well have we?” asked Wootton.

The former top flight official continued: “We’ve seen a challenge directly into the ankle with the studs… You’re going to go back to van Dijk aren’t you?”

“Yep. Same referee, Merseyside derby, not a red?” said Wootton.

Gallagher responded: “Well to defend that I’d say maybe he’s learnt then. But I still don’t think van Dijk was a red card. But I think that [Royal’s] is.”


It’s easy to come across hysterical when questioning the officiating in football, and particularly the discrepancies between different teams, but this is just a joke.

Gallagher is supposed to be an expert pundit, having spent 15 years in the Premier League, and 13 of those as a FIFA listed referee, but he has made no sense at all on this subject.

The fact that he knew Wootton was thinking of the van Dijk challenge without it being mentioned shows he must be aware of how it fulfils the very criteria he was just claiming officials have “worked on all season”.

To then say Taylor has “learnt” suggests he must have been wrong last time in not sending off the Liverpool man, but Gallagher then contradicts even that statement within the same sentence, by saying that one was a yellow and one was a red.

If it is really a specific area of focus for the officials then it is little surprise that Royal was sent off, but makes it all the more baffling that van Dijk wasn’t.

Taylor’s failure to produce a red at Goodison is made particularly glaring when he then does do so at the Emirates, and despite Gallagher’s nonsensical attempts there is little explanation as to the difference.

Over the past year or so Everton routinely seem to be on the wrong end of decisions that appear to defy reason.

In the space of a month Taylor has contradicted himself with opposite decisions in two local derbies, while Gallagher has contradicted himself numerous times trying to support both decisions, neither of which does anything to increase confidence in either the on field officials, their VAR counterparts who rubber-stamped both, or those now paid to provide an independent analysis on them.