MIKE Dean has been chosen to referee Manchester United’s Premier League meeting with Manchester City on Monday night.
The 44-year old FIFA official, who has been a Select Group referee since 2000, has been appointed to take charge of the derby between local rivals United and City as the top two go head-to-head in a fixture which is always eagerly anticipated, often controversial and dramatic.
Although, with United 15 points clear at the top of the table, it has less significance on the title race this time around as the hosts chase a 13th title in the Premier League era but pride and bragging rights are still at stake.
Dean has plenty of experience in officiating high-calibre matches of this magnitude and is always considered for selection when the best teams goes head-to-head as one of the top referees among the 17-strong Select Group.
Among his stellar assignments are the 2008 FA Cup Final between Portsmouth and Cardiff City, the 2011 Carling Cup Final which Arsenal surprisingly lost 2-1 to Birmingham City and two Championship Play-Off finals at Wembley.
This season, he has taken charge of 31 matches in all competitions this season – dishing out 109 yellows, four red cards and awarding eight penalties.
His last match was a goalless draw between Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion at the Britannia Stadium on March 16.
Dean will take charge of his third Manchester derby after overseeing a Carling Cup semi-final first leg between the sides at Eastlands in January 2010, which City won 2-1 thanks to a hotly-disputed Carlos Tevez penalty as Craig Bellamy looked to have been tugged back outside the box by Rafael.
His other appointment came in the semi-finals of the FA Cup in April 2011 as City triumphed 1-0 at Wembley courtesy of a solitary Yaya Toure goal, with Dean correctly dismissing United midfielder Paul Scholes late on for an overzealous high challenge on Pablo Zabaleta.
This time around, it will be his first in the Premier League in his 22nd top-flight match of the season.
It will be Dean’s first run-in with United boss Sir Alex Ferguson since the Scotsman gave him a dressing down at half-time during their 4-3 win over Newcastle at Old Trafford on Boxing Day.
It came after the official overturned a decision from assistant referee Jake Collin to award the Magpies a goal which was credited to Red Devils defender Jonny Evans. Javier Hernandez’s late goal gave United the victory in a match they had trailed in three times to send them seven points clear of City at the time.
It is the fourth time he will take charge of the league leaders having also overseen their 3-2 win over Southampton at St Marys in which he awarded United a second-half penalty which Robin Van Persie saw saved by Kelvin Davis, a 2-1 win over Arsenal at the beginning of November in which Wayne Rooney also missed a spot-kick following a handball by Santi Cazorla, as well as the Magpies thriller in December.
He has already overseen four City games this term, all in the Premier League – a 1-1 draw with Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in September, a slender 1-0 victory over Reading in December before overseeing a controversial clash at the Emirates in January in their 2-0 win over Arsenal in January. Dean dismissed Gunners defender Laurent Koscielny in the 10th minute for an apparent professional foul on Edin Dzeko before contentiously sending off City captain Vincent Kompany in the second half for a challenge on Jack Wilshere.
Despite Kompany’s appeal against the dismissal proving worthwhile after a three-man FA commission ruled in their favour, City boss Roberto Mancini was still left fuming saying: “It’s not a red card, it’s nothing.”
He also recently took charge of their 1-0 victory at Aston Villa at the beginning of March.
Dean will be assisted on the day by linesman Stephen Child and John Brooks, who famously told City players to acknowledge their travelling fans who had paid £62 for a ticket after 900 supporters had stayed away from the Emirates in protest at the cost. Howard Webb is on electronic board duties as fourth official.
United can move 18 points clear at the summit with victory over their local rivals and nearest challengers.
Second-placed City, who are four points clear of third-placed Chelsea at the start of play, were 6-1 winners on their previous visit last October and are looking for back-to-back victories at the home of the Red Devils for almost 40 years.
The match, kicking off at 20:00 BST at Old Trafford, can be seen live on Sky Sports on April 8.