Leeds United manager Simon Grayson claimed today that the Football Association’s decision to uphold a red card shown to Chris Cohen had “totally vindicated” his reaction to the Nottingham Forest midfielder’s dismissal at Elland Road.
Grayson came in for criticism from Forest’s coaching staff after attempting to confront Cohen over his challenge on Leeds defender George McCartney, but the United boss said he had no intention of apologising following a failed appeal against the dismissal.
Forest asked the FA to overturn the red card issued by referee Mark Halsey in the 35th minute of Leeds’ 4-1 victory last weekend, but the governing body rejected their challenge and fined the Nottingham club for amassing six yellow cards at Elland Road.
Billy Davies, the Forest manager, implied that Grayson had influenced Halsey by running on to the pitch to remonstrate with Cohen, but the FA brought no disciplinary charges against Grayson. Cohen, meanwhile, was beginning a three-match ban today.
Grayson said: “Forest appealed against the decision and the red card was upheld. I’d like to think that what I did was vindicated.
“If it had been overturned then I’d have been the first to come out and apologise for my actions.
“But somebody else made the decision about sending him off and somebody else has looked at it and decided it was right. I feel totally vindicated for being there.
“I was showing passion and defending my player and, as I said at the time, if that had been any other club in front of their bench, the manager and coaching staff would have done exactly the same. I’m not going to apologise.”
McCartney escaped injury in the tackle, which Cohen committed yards from Grayson’s technical area, but the left-back supported Halsey afterwards, arguing that the Lancashire official had “no option” but to punish Cohen with a straight red card.
Davies pointed an accusing finger at Grayson, saying: “Quite simply, it’s not for me to control what takes place on the touchline with other managers going on to the field of play.”
But Grayson said: “Where I was stood, the lad jumped two-footed. If George had been a millisecond quicker then he might have broken his leg. You cannot leave the ground in any challenge.
“From where I was at full speed, it looked a nasty tackle. It’s all right people slowing it down and saying ‘he got the ball’ or ‘he didn’t hurt him’ but what would have happened if he had done? Do you have to wait until somebody breaks a leg to send a player off?
“The rules are clear. If I’m not showing passion or desire then my players might not either. I don’t do that very often but I felt so strongly about the challenge that, whether my emotions took over, I was going to defend my player.
“I saw some of the interviews (with Forest’s staff) and some of the answers I found strange, funny and bizarre. But I’ve been vindicated because I’ve not had a charge against me, the sending off has been upheld and we got the points.”
Grayson, meanwhile, said he supported the FA’s move to cite and punish Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney for swearing at a television camera during a Premier League game at West Ham United last Saturday.
Rooney received a two-match ban for the offence – a penalty which Grayson saw as excessive – but the United boss said: “He was wrong in what he did. So many kids watch TV and it wasn’t the best of examples. Somewhere down the line it has to be cut out.
“Maybe a fine and a one-match ban would have been more appropriate but they (the FA) are trying to highlight these issues.
“There’s a lot of pressure on players but they get paid a considerable amount of money. If you want to be a footballer and earn the money you do then you accept the responsibilities that come with it.
“If you can’t handle the pressure, go and do a job where there’s real pressure.”