Referee Mike Dean one of Premier League's best - Mark Halsey

Mike Dean
Mike Dean has been a Premier League referee for 16 years

Mike Dean remains one of the Premier League's best referees despite an "indifferent" festive period, says former official Mark Halsey.

Dean has received criticism for some of his recent performances and the number of red cards he has shown - five in 15 matches this season.

Ex-Premier League referee Halsey thinks Dean can come across as "arrogant".

He also believes only a handful of referees are "trusted" for the league's most important games.

Dean, who has been a Premier League referee for 16 years, controversially sent off West Ham's Sofiane Feghouli during the Hammers' defeat by Manchester United on 2 January, while the red card was later rescinded by the Football Association.

That dismissal was the official's 26th since the start of the 2013-14 season - the highest number by any current Premier League referee in that period.

"If you look back over the December period, he has had an indifferent period," Halsey, 55, told BBC Radio 5 live.

"I have disagreed with some of his decision-making, especially the sendings-off.

"It is not an easy job to do. He is one of the most experienced and is a very good referee - one of the best of the bunch we have got.

"He does come across as a little bit arrogant. I would like to see that taken out of his game and perhaps he would get a lot more respect from the paying public and the media.

"But that is not the way he is off the pitch - if truth be told, the players like him."

'No leadership or direction'

Halsey, who retired in 2013, says the standard of officiating has "got steadily worse" since Keith Hackett retired as general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) in 2010.

"Mark Clattenburg is by far our best referee, then there is Martin Atkinson, Michael Oliver, Andre Marriner, Anthony Taylor and Mike Dean. The top games, the big derbies, can only be refereed by four or five referees. The PGMOL do not trust the others to take control of those games," he said.

Halsey also criticised the new way referees are assessed. There is now an "evaluation system" that can take up to 10 days to issue feedback rather than an assessor at the ground.

He added: "It could be 10 days before you get closure on a game on a Saturday. You can go into your next game without any closure on a previous game.

"Look at the top referees, they are confused. There is no leadership or direction coming from within."

'Clattenburg could go to China'

Clattenburg, 41, has said he would consider officiating in the Chinese Super League.

He refereed the finals of the FA Cup, the Champions League and the European Championship in 2016.

Asked if he would be surprised if Clattenburg went to China, Halsey added: "No I wouldn't. There is no love lost between Clattenburg, the FA, and PGMOL.

"There is a lot to sort out. It needs a massive overhaul. We have got excellent referees not being coached correctly - people involved in referring who have never been involved in referring at that level."

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