However, players, pundits and Tweeters rightly applauded Howard Webb's display in the absorbing Tyne-Wear derby on Saturday which had all of that and more.
The pace and intensity typified what we still refer to as an English game and yet post-match analysis highlighted refereeing errors which, if corrected, would have resulted in a vastly different game of football.
Off you go: Phil Bardsley is dismissed by referee Howard Webb
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Webb immediately gave a corner but appeared unsure and reacted to player appeals by consulting with Scott Ledger, his well-positioned assistant; as he was also not certain, they rightly stuck with the original decision to award a corner.
Slow-motion replays proved that Larsson did handle the ball and should have been dismissed and Newcastle awarded a penalty. That same replay also showed that Webb had no possibility of seeing the incident despite being in a credible position.
Next up was Ryan Taylor, who appeared to throw an elbow at Sunderland striker Asamaoh Gyan. Full credit to the Ghanaian for not reacting and throwing himself to the floor, a la Barton last weekend. It was an action which saved Taylor a straight red card and left him on the field to score the winning goal.
Sunderland's hard man Lee Cattermole did his best to liven the game up and tested Webb's resolve on numerous occasions and was fortunate to only get a yellow card for another poor challenge on Yohan Cabaye.
Finally Webb was forced to reach for his red card when Phil Bardsley committed a shocking studs-up lunge on Fabricio Coloccini.
Battle: Joey Barton and Lee Cattermole tussle for the ball
The Sunderland defender was dismissed for a second yellow card as the strength and intensity of the challenge was only made clear with a slow motion replay.
And that really is the point.
Incidents often look very different on second viewing and especially with the benefit of different angles and speeds. Premier League football matches are played on grass and television screens.
Top-class referees know that and merely control the controllable - deal with what they can affect and that is live at full speed on the grass.
Fans are critical but would be more so if this beautiful game were interrupted repeatedly for a referee to refer to a video replay. This game was absorbing and a great advert for the Premier League for which Webb deserves great credit.
GOOD WEEK FOR.Neil WarnockBAD WEEK FOR.Penalty takers
Warnock masterminded QPR's win at Everton. It was just disappointing that he chose to abuse fourth official Mike Jones after Kevin Friend correctly cautioned Fitz Hall for an ill-judged tackle. Even more disappointing was Jones ignoring such disgraceful conduct, which gives Warnock the green light.
Ben Watson (Wigan) and Jon Walters (Stoke) both missed their spot kicks this weekend. Referees are often berated for 'missing' penalties but can only award them when they are 100 per cent sure, which is particularly difficult given the way players go to ground so easily.
Graham Poll: Don't be fooled, Suarez WASN'T offside against ArsenalWatch all the Premier League goals every week on our brilliant video player