FORMER Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher has DEFENDED Bruno Fernandes after he appeared to push the assistant referee.
Following Manchester United's horrific 7-0 mauling at the hands of Liverpool, Fernandes drew widespread criticism from fans and pundits for the way he behaved in the match.
One such flashpoint was when he appeared to push the assistant referee after they held the Man Utd captain back from a further altercation with Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Asked about the incident, Gallagher told Sky Sports: "I have mixed feelings about it.
"You don't want a player to be manhandling the match official but I would suggest the assistant actually manhandled Fernandes more than he did.
"I think once the official does it first Fernandes is almost like fly-swatting like 'get out my way I want to get on with it'.
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"So whilst I don't condone it, the referee is in a difficult position because if he makes an issue of it Fernandes is likely to say he grabbed hold of me first."
Fernandes was blasted as putting in "one of the worst performances" ever seen from a Premier League captain by Chris Sutton.
Meanwhile, Man Utd icon Gary Neville blasted Fernandes as "embarrassing".
He said: "The second-half was an absolute disgrace and a shambles.
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"That was epitomised by captain Bruno Fernandes who was embarrassing at times."
Adding on to his earlier comments, Gallagher added: "I don't think it's wise [touching Fernandes]…
"I think you've got to be mindful but you've [also] got to be very careful. We can't make a big thing of Fernandes pushing out at him when he's actually received it himself.
"I think that's where the common sense was [not punishing the player] – and I think the ref did superbly by the way – he actually spoke to Fernandes off the ball quietly and what it did [is] he got the message over to him without him actually making it public."
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