If you want to get a measure of just how angry Neil Warnock was with the performance of referee Michael Oliver yesterday, then the fact he insisted on giving two television interviews to Sky Sports might give you an idea.
In the first, Warnock was angry. By the second, having seen the replays, he was livid. By the time he came to speak to the newspapers an hour after the end of the game, the Queen's Park Rangers manager had only just started to calm down. His team only got their equaliser in stoppage-time, an own-goal by Richard Dunne, having been denied a penalty of their own by what their manager called an "embarrassing" decision by Oliver.
With the Prime Minister and Villa fan David Cameron in attendance, Rangers dominated the first half, in which Alex McLeish admitted his team were "insipid". Having told them so at half-time, the Villa manager saw his team take the lead with Barry Bannan's penalty before the hour, its award the first of a series of borderline decisions by Oliver that transformed the match.
After Armand Traoré was sent off for two bookings, the first of which was given for the foul on Gabriel Agbonlahor for the penalty, Warnock had to shepherd his players away from the referee on the pitch at the end of the game. For the penalty, there was evidence that Traoré grabbed the Villa striker's shirt but in the context of the whole incident it still looked like a harsh decision by Oliver.
As far as a Football Association charge goes, Warnock sailed closest to the wind in his initial, expansively voiced televised criticism of Oliver, the youngest Premier League referee at 26, for the penalty given against Traoré. "Traoré's penalty, come on, I've never seen anything like that," Warnock said. "He [Traoré] blows on him. He [Oliver] wants to give the penalty and it's wrong."
Earlier in the same interview, Warnock was also indignant about Oliver's decision not to give two penalties for hand-ball incident involving full-back Alan Hutton in the second half; in particular, the first from a Shaun Derry header on 71 minutes.
"How has the linesman not seen that?" Warnock asked. "He deliberately hand-balls it. And the second one [hand-ball by Hutton], we're told that if you raise your hands it's a hand-ball. He's raised his hands against Tommy Smith. But the first one is embarrassing. How that cannot be given a penalty – he can't even say he's in a bad position."
Later, in his press conference, Warnock said that he had spoken to Oliver after the game and that he hoped the young referee "would learn" from some of the points he had made to him: "I was disappointed. When I was a young man my father refereed and he always said, a good referee, you don't very often see them.
"The two major decisions have gone against us. When not one Aston Villa supporter behind the goal appeals for a penalty, you know there is something wrong. It was a very soft one. From his [Oliver's] position, he assures me it was. Technically, you still have to change the course [of the player] ... so if he gives that, there has to be 20 or 30 more free-kicks in the box, because there is a lot more pulling than that.
"The [decision on the] Derry header, the lad [Hutton] almost moved his hand down and it is the most certain, 100 per cent penalty you will ever see. So we have been unlucky with both counts. I always [talk to the referee] just tell him my opinion. When you are a young referee you learn not just from your assessors but from people who played the game or manage. I made one or two points to him that I think will help him for when something like that happens again."
If Warnock was hard on Oliver he was even harder on Traoré, who was sent off for a silly lunge on substitute Marc Albrighton in the 90th minute. Warnock stopped the player from going down the tunnel to admonish him on the touchline in full view of the whole stadium, later calling Traoré a "disgrace".
Warnock said: "I will fine him as much as I can. Total amateur, Sunday League sending off. They must be laughing their heads off, Villa. We are losing 1-0 and he [Traoré] goes in like that. If I was a player I would have got him sent off because he went in and jumped. [James] Collins and [Charles] N'Zogbia both should have had a second yellow card, but they are both cleverer, both know what they are doing and they are both playing next week.
"He [Traoré] obviously has a lot to learn, he has become a very good player. Sometimes you have to learn from experience. I told him what a disgrace he was, I think he understood what I was saying."
McLeish had equally harsh words for his team at half-time and praised their second-half performance, in which Bannan excelled. In the absence of the team's usual penalty-taker, Darren Bent, the Scottish midfielder took responsibility himself to give Villa the lead. Dunne scored the ninth own-goal of his Premier League career – a record – when substitute Heidar Helguson's cross cannoned off Stephen Warnock, against the Irishman and in.
McLeish said: "I'm frustrated we should throw it away in the dying embers of the game. The first half was pretty woeful and I let them know that at half-time, but the second half was much better. In the first half, there were no direct forward runs and we couldn't even control the ball.
"We have to make forward runs and control the ball. They looked frightened in the first half and I don't know why that should be. It's the greatest game they'll ever play football and they should relish."
The Villa manager disagreed with Warnock's assessment of the penalty for Villa, saying that he thought Oliver had made the right decision.
"As soon as he blew the whistle I thought it was a pen," McLeish said, although by then he had heard of Warnock's point of view and looked more than a little keen to contradict his counterpart.
Substitutes: Queen's Park Rangers Campbell 5 (Bothroyd, 66), Helguson (Derry, 79), Smith (Wright-Phillips, 86). Aston Villa Albrighton (Bannan, 72), Weimann (N'Zogbia, 85).
Booked: QPR Traoré. Aston Villa Warnock, Hutton, Collins, Petrov, Agbonlahor, N'Zogbia. Sent off: QPR Traoré (90)
Man of the match Bannan. Match rating 6/10. Possession: QPR 54% Aston Villa 46%.
Attempts on target: QPR 9 Aston Villa 4. Referee M Oliver (Northumberland).
Attendance 16,707.Reuse content