Referees cannot be expected to read minds

The idea that a player can be sent off for intent has always seemed absurd to me.

For a start, a referee would have to know what is in a player’s mind as he went in for a challenge.

More often than not, there will not be too much there.

And even if there is the intention to commit a foul, there really is no way of knowing.

The officials still make a judgment - let’s face it they are forced to by the laws of the game - and it can go horribly wrong.

Take, for example, the red card given to Vincent Kompany for his tackle on Nani in the Manchester derby at the weekend.

It was neither violent nor vicious, no one was hurt - no one even appealed for a free kick as far as I could see - yet the card was brandished and the game effectively ruined.

Referee Chris Foy would say - and he was backed up by former ref Dermot Gallagher on the radio - he was only enforcing the laws.

Shame then that he failed to enforce the laws when United should have had a second penalty after the break or when City should have had one for a handball.

And what about the FA enforcing their own law that if three or more players surround the referee then a charge can follow?

The real headline from the game should have been the emergence from a brief retirement of former England international Paul Scholes.

He answered an SOS from Sir Alex Ferguson who was running out of midfield players to return to the Red Devils and made an appearance as a second half substitute.

With Thierry Henry returning to Arsenal, the jokes started to fly around - Alan Shearer coming back for Newcastle while Demeba Ba is away on African Cup of Nations duty, Ian Rush returning to Anfield because Andy Carroll is rubbish.

Perhaps we could even have Clive Thomas making a comeback to replace Chris Foy.

Then again . . .

Football management is a profession in which the rewards for success are high but the penalty for failure can be severe.

No one knows that better today than Neil Warnock who, months after getting Queen’s Park Rangers back in the top flight, was sacked because they were too close to the bottom of the table.

Sadly that is the way of the world and there are few clubs in which goodwill to managers lasts much longer than a three or four game losing run.

Warnock is not everyone’s cup of tea, but he has enjoyed success since the mid 1980s when he guided Scarborough into the Football League.

He can - and frequently does - wind up the opposition managers, but that is part of the post match fun and I for one hope that, if he wants to, it is not too long before he gets back in the game.