WITH Paddy McNair having become the second Middlesbrough player to have a red card overturned this season, Neil Warnock has questioned whether his reputation for challenging referees is having an undue influence on the decisions awarded against his team.

McNair is available for tomorrow’s game at Reading after an independent FA panel rescinded the red card that was awarded when he won the ball in a challenge with Huddersfield’s Juninho Bacuna on Tuesday night.

Sam Morsy’s dismissal against Luton Town in December was also overturned on appeal, and having established a reputation for speaking out against referees during his 40-year managerial career, Warnock admits he is beginning to wonder whether his previous actions are being held against him.

At the very least, the Middlesbrough manager is questioning whether officials are quicker to act against his players than the opposition, with Dean Whitestone’s failure to dismiss Blackburn defender Jarrod Branthwaite for last month’s kick in Dael Fry’s head still a major bone of contention.

“I do worry,” said Warnock. “I didn’t really think about it before this season – I think everybody knows what I’m like and most referees accept that. But this year has been a little bit more than normal. I think even Alan Wiley, the referees’ chief, accepts that.

“Some of the decisions that have gone against us have been diabolical really. You do begin to think, ‘Is it me?’ I said that to the players. But you’ve got to get over that I guess because referees have to make decisions.

“Do they make them quicker when it’s my team rather than other teams? You do begin to look at that and think about it, especially when you see some of the trivial things that are given against us but aren’t given for us.

“It is a worry, but there’s nothing I can do really. I’ve been doing this for more than 30 years, and I’ve seen a few referees off over that period. I used to have a go at the referees 30 years ago, but when I look back now, they were a good group really. I shouldn’t have given them that much stick!”

Warnock is in regular contact with Wiley, and the pair have discussed the standard of refereeing in the Football League this season.

The pressure referees are under was graphically illustrated earlier this week when Darren Drysdale lost his cool and came close to head-butting Ipswich’s Alan Judge, but Warnock feels the current crop of EFL officials are struggling because they do not have a deep understanding of the game.

“The trouble with referees, as Bill Shankly once said, is that they know the rules but don’t know the game,” he said. “Referees will get 95 per cent of things correct, but when you have come to something where you have to have played the game or been involved in it like that, that’s where they miss out.

“I think Alan must pull his own hair out. When I write to Alan, and I do regularly, he understands my frustrations and he has his own frustrations. It’s all about education and coaching.”