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Distracted Phil Dowd spends 90 minutes fretting about post-match handshakes

Bemused by Dowd's decisions during Wigan's game with Man United? Back of the Net's John Foster has the scoop...

Phil Dowd spent the duration of Manchester UnitedâÂÂs shock defeat to Wigan Athletic on Wednesday thinking about his post-match handshakes with players and officials, FourFourTwo.com has learned.

Dowd has been the target of intense criticism after making several controversial decisions during the match, including failing to send off Jonny Evans, ruling out a Wigan goal, denying Man United two penalties and allowing the first half to continue for 55 minutes while he practiced his handshake technique in the centre circle.

âÂÂMr DowdâÂÂs mind seemed to be elswhere,â remarked Latics boss Roberto Martinez. âÂÂHe was gazing into the middle distance for at least the first 15 minutes, and I know he didnâÂÂt have a clear view of Victor Mosesâ disallowed goal, because I could see him staring at Rio Ferdinand's wrists.âÂÂ

Sources close to Dowd have told FourFourTwo.com that recent events had brought his complex about his handshake to a head.
First, the Staffordshire-based official found himself unable to stop shaking the hand of Oriol Romeu after ChelseaâÂÂs clash with West Brom, forcing the young midfielder to miss two matches with a sprained thumb.

Then, following NewcastleâÂÂs game against Norwich, Magpies boss Alan Pardew announced publicly that shaking hands with Dowd was âÂÂlike fondling a dessicated hagfishâÂÂ, words which Dowd is understood to have found quite hurtful.


"What if I injure a goalie's hand?"

âÂÂLast night was particularly tough for Phil,â ex-referee Graeme Poll told FourFourTwo.com.

âÂÂRoberto [Martinez] is reknowned as having one of the most sophisticated handshakes in the Premier League, masculine but contemporary, and with impeccably well-moisturised palms.

âÂÂAnd even though itâÂÂs a privilege to shake the hand of a living legend like Sir Alex [Ferguson], he could snap your fingers like dry twigs if he wanted to.

râÂÂSo it wouldnâÂÂt surprise me if Phil was more nervous than usual. Though having said that, thatâÂÂs no excuse for giving Gary Caldwell a panicked curtsey at the final whistle. He deserves better than that.âÂÂ

The FA have announced that until Dowd overcomes his fear of handshakes he will only referee games involving QPR, whose manager Mark Hughes considers politeness to be a sign of weakness, and so refuses to shake hands with anyone as a matter of principle.

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