O’Neil’s Outburst Earns Touchline Ban: Wolves Boss to Miss City Clash

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolves manager Gary O’Neil has been dealt a double blow after a fiery reaction to a disallowed goal in their 2-1 defeat to West Ham United. The FA has hit him with a one-match touchline ban and an £8,000 fine, forcing him to miss the team’s crucial clash against title-chasing Manchester City this Saturday.

O’Neil’s outburst stemmed from the controversial disallowing of a stoppage-time equalizer by Maximilian Kilman. Feeling strongly about the decision, he aimed a verbal tirade at referee, calling it “possibly the worst I’ve ever seen”. This outburst led to the FA charge of improper conduct related to his on-field behavior towards Harrington.

The disallowed goal stemmed from a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) intervention. Replays showed Wolves substitute Chirewa standing in an offside position directly in front of Fabianski before Kilman struck. While Chirewa didn’t directly interfere with play, question arose whether his presence in Fabianski’s line of sight constituted an offense. The FA, siding with the VAR decision, deemed Chirewa to be impeding Fabianski, justifying the goal’s disallowance.

O’Neil Accepts Charge but Details of Post-Match Incident Emerge

O’Neil has accepted the FA’s charge, resulting in the one-match touchline ban and the hefty fine. This means he will be absent from the dugout as Wolves travel to the Etihad Stadium for a pivotal match.

However, the FA statement revealed a further layer to the incident. The charge against O’Neil extended beyond his on-field comments. It included his behavior “in or around the match officials’ changing room” following the final whistle. While the specifics remain undisclosed, the statement suggests O’Neil’s frustration continued after the game, potentially leading to him using inappropriate language or conduct towards Harrington.

Wolves Boss Admits to Heated Post-Match Discussion with Referees

Speaking after the match, O’Neil confirmed that he sought out Harrington to discuss the disallowed goal. He admitted that the conversation “didn’t go well” due to his emotional state at the time. This admission suggests a heated exchange might have taken place even after the final whistle.

While O’Neil clearly disagrees with the call, referees’ chief Howard Webb, speaking on the latest episode of “Match Officials Mic’d Up,” defended the VAR decision. Webb emphasized the critical factor of Chirewa’s positioning. He argued that by standing in an offside position directly in front of the goalkeeper, Chirewa could have potentially hindered Fabianski’s ability to react to the shot, even if there was no direct touch. Webb further stated that most goalkeepers would expect such an infraction to be penalized.

This incident highlights the ever-present tension between managers and referees in the high-pressure environment of the Premier League. As Wolves travel to Manchester City without their manager on the touchline, O’Neil’s fiery reaction and the subsequent penalty serve as a cautionary tale for managers to maintain composure in the heat of the moment. The impact of his absence on the Wolves’ strategy and morale for this crucial match against City remains to be seen.
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