Ref Review: Oliver has Chelsea boss silently stewing, new boy struggles at Norwich vs Crystal Palace

It’s that time of the week to have a rant about the latest batch of refereeing howlers or daft decisions, and highlight the odd right call, from the Premier League’s men in the middle…

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Premier League pressure gets to the new boy

Norwich v Crystal Palace
Ref: Simon Hooper

This was Simon Hooper’s debut as a top-flight referee, and if he had hoped to fly under the radar, he failed spectacularly. The early signs weren’t great, as he struggled to control both sets of players following Glenn Murray’s rash two-footed challenge. To not even show a yellow card for such a tackle was a bad call, and hinted that the occasion was getting to him.

The stand-out poor decision of the weekend was the disallowing of Cameron Jerome’s overhead finish for a high foot. While it makes sense for officials to clamp down on dangerous play and eliminate the possibility of head injuries wherever possible, if that was a foul, then we might as well make the overhead kick completely against the rules, and where’s the fun in that? The defender was on the wrong side of Jerome and had to make a big effort to get his head anywhere near a point of collision. Norwich can feel very hard done by, particularly as they were on top during that period.

Grade: E. Must do better.

Mou’s in a mood

Chelsea v Swansea
Ref: Michael Oliver

There is something about Michael Oliver that just doesn’t instil confidence. However, this was a reasonable afternoon for him – not that you’d think so, given Jose Mourinho’s strange post-match reaction. His “silent” response to questions about the referee was classic Mourinho, and unfortunately, seems likely to be the start of a long and tedious season of his mind games.

That being said, Thibaut Courtois can probably count himself slightly unlucky to have been sent for an early bath. Yes, it was a foul, and yes, it was just inside the area, but Gary Cahill was back and there was the possibility of cover on the line too, so Bafetimbi Gomis would have still have had to show some top-drawer finishing skills to put the chance away from that position. The double jeopardy of the penalty and red card often seems a little harsh in these instances, and this was another such occasion.

Grade: B. This was better from Oliver compared to last season, but he still needs to work on that air of authority.

Nothing remarkable to report from Old Trafford

Manchester United v Tottenham
Ref: Jonathan Moss

One or two inconsistencies from the official caused frustration in this rather dull opening game of the season. The decision to penalise Daley Blind for a high foot (when there was little to no chance of contact with a head) came just moments before Jan Vertonghen did actually catch Wayne Rooney in the side of the face with a knee. Neither were particularly dangerous, but if the first one was a foul, then the second one definitely should have been.

It was also disappointing – yet in no way surprising – to see Ashley Young dupe Moss into showing Eric Dier a yellow card. Young is a cheat, plain and simple, and unfortunately, there seems to be little chance of him ever changing his ways, but Moss fell for it in one of his very few mistakes on the day.

Grade: B. Little of note happened, either in the game or in Moss’ refereeing performance.

Pawson keeps a handle on things

Newcastle United v Southampton
Ref: Craig Pawson

Both sets of fans left this game feeling that they were on the wrong side of the referee all afternoon, which tends to indicate that he had a pretty fair performance. The one potentially game-changing decision that he got wrong was failing to award a penalty after Fabricio Coloccini’s shot struck the hand of Maya Yoshida. It was one of those difficult moments when the defender didn’t have time to react, but it still prevented an attempt on goal and should probably have been given.

Grade: C. Pawson missed one key penalty box incident in the game.

Jones sets the standard

Everton v Watford
Ref: Mike Jones

Mike Jones had a blinder in what was an excellent match all round between Everton and Watford. The ref got every one of the big decisions right. He played a good handball advantage for the first goal, spotted that Heurelho Gomes was just inside the box when he handled a ball over the top, and he somehow spotted Troy Deeney’s lunge inside the penalty box when the ball was gone.

Deeney’s challenge hinted that there’s a strong chance that the striker will pick up some red cards this season; he was overly committed and late to the two-footed tackle, and only the lack of pace in the collision prevented it from being a possible sending off scenario.

Grade: A. Jones kept the game flowing and got all of the big calls right.


Follow @tommbennett

Read more from Tom here.


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