Welcome to what I hope will be a regular column for the website. Each week I plan to look back at the previous weekend’s referee errors and hoping to shed a little bit of light on the official,s failings. I will take in games from not only the Barclays Premier League but all around Europe as well.
For those of you who do not know my background let me fill you in. I was a referee in the Republic of Ireland for more than 20 years, officiating from junior level right up to European football. I have held a FIFA assistant referee,s badge and was involved in numerous games around Europe. In what is now known as the Airtricity League I refereed at the top level in this country. The plan with this column is just to bring the spotlight on the referees for you the fans. Each week I will have a look at two games and the referees involved.
This week the spotlight falls on Anthony Taylor who took charge of the biggest game of the weekend between Manchester City and Chelsea and Michael Oliver who was the man in the middle for the game at Goodison Park. So read on and let me below give my reaction to what I thought were poor performances by two FIFA referees who should have done better.
Anthony Taylor was the man in the middle for the Manchester City and Chelsea game, a match that would be watched all around the world. In my opinion he made a total mess of it and when the game erupted near the end with a twenty two man brawl he had to take a lot of responsibility for the melee. It was a game where it seemed to me he was simply not at the races.
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As a referee you need to get the big decisions and when Anthony failed to deal with a blatant foul by David Luiz on Aguero I just knew trouble would follow. It was a clear cut foul by the Chelsea defender and in my opinion the referee bottled it. In fact if you get a chance to look back at the action again, watch the referee,s reaction when the foul takes place, his hand clearly goes to his pocket as if he was going to get a card out, but in the end he did not even blow his whistle for a foul. On the day he also turned a stone wall penalty claim for City when Gundogan was taken down in the penalty area. These decisions had City incensed and I felt it would lead to problems and it came when Aguero went in waist high on Luiz and was correctly shown a red card. Players came from every direction to join in a mass brawl and Fernandinho was also shown a red card for putting his hand on Fabregas, s throat. In my opinion Cesc should have gone as well, due to the fact he got involved in a situation that was nothing to do with him, in fact he was also guilty of putting his hand on Fernandinho, I thought the Chelsea player behaved despicably in his effort to get his opponent sent off. At the very top level of football if a referee misses one big crucial decision he can end up in a lot of trouble and on Saturday that is exactly what happened to Anthony Taylor.
Twenty four hours later it was Everton and Manchester United’s turn to take centre stage. The man given this game was Michael Oliver and in my opinion he did not fair much better than his colleague Anthony Taylor. The challenge by Rojo on Idrissa Gueye was a red card all day long and he only produced a yellow, something everybody in the ground and those watching on TV could not understand as having given the free kick, a red card was expected to follow. The actual foul ticked all the boxes that are set down for referee’s to try and help them get the correct decision in the end. It was an easy red card in my opinion, but the fact Michael did not produce one was astonishing. You are probably wondering what I mean by an easy red card, it is something referee’s will say when there is no doubt in anyone,s mind that the player should have received his marching orders. Later on in the game there was an incident involving Seamus Coleman and Zlatan which the referee failed to deal with as well. As the players tussled Zlatan clearly kicked out at Coleman’s head as they were on the ground, the referee stood off the incident and in my opinion should have jumped in to stop any messing. After the game Zlatan claimed he did not kick Coleman intentionally but it does not matter, no matter what angle you look at it from, he did kick him and in my opinion like most people’s he did it deliberately. So overall Michael missed two big incidents in the game and that is just not acceptable from a FIFA man.
There we have it, two huge games over the weekend refereed by FIFA officials who in my opinion had a bad day at the office. As the season goes on, we will have plenty more bad decisions by referee’s and let us all hope that it will not involve a team you support or like most fans it will drive you crazy. Referee’s need to up their games to a level were we do not see mistakes on a large scale, but I am not sure it will happen anytime soon. Until next week enjoy your football and do not let the officials upset you. ” Ciao ”
By David Meier
Former FIFA Assistant Referee.