Ref Review: Mark Halsey says Manchester United, Chelsea & Southampton have every right to feel aggrieved

Alex Vryzakis discusses the goalkeeping decisions made at the Manchester derby, the costly verdicts for Chelsea and Mark Hughes’ dismissal to the stands as the Premier League returned. Mark Halsey from also returns to give his professional opinion on the weekend’s decisions.


Bravo’s game to forget

Game: Manchester United 1 – 2 Manchester City

Ref: Mark Clattenburg

Though the first Manchester derby of the season appeared to be more about Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho’s continued rivalry than football, referee Mark Clattenburg was undoubtably aware of the possibility that this game would kick off in a big way.

Even though Guardiola’s men ran away with it in the end, Mourinho was already prepared with a list of gripes – with the ref and his own players in the line of fire. Clattenburg was asked about two possible penalty incidents, and although the United manager may be infamous for his complaints, these two were worthy of a second look.

The first came as Joe Hart’s replacement Claudio Bravo made a cringe-worthy gaffe. The keeper wasn’t having the best of games to start with, but his loose ball was shocking for a player at this level. As Bravo and Wayne Rooney raced to get to the ball first, it was obvious there would be a collision. While Bravo managed to get the ball fully, his initial launch towards the ball was reckless and could easily have been deemed a red-card offence. Clattenburg waved play on, signalling that Bravo had done nothing wrong.

The issue is, had the tackle been anywhere else on the pitch, it’s likely it would’ve been a foul. Is this a case of leniency because of the player’s position on the pitch? One to ponder on.

The second incident was more clear-cut. Antonio Valencia attempted to cross the ball into the box, with the cross hitting Nicolas Otamendi’s left elbow. Clattenburg rightly decided to wave play on without giving a penalty as Otamendi had his head turned away from the ball. There was no way the handball was on purpose, and the officials were quick to recognise that.

While Rooney may well have deserved a penalty for the collision with Bravo, the keeper was within his rights to go for the ball, and this may have helped Clattenburg make up his mind.

Grade: B-. A difficult affair to officiate and the Bravo incident was tough to call, despite repeated replays.

Mark Halsey’s Verdict

On the Otamendi handball, you have to look at whether the handball is deliberate or not and there is no way that is deliberate.

Overall I thought Mark Clattenburg reffed the game really well but he got the one big talking point wrong, he didn’t have the greatest view of Bravo’s challenge from where he was on the pitch and he needed his assistant – Simon Bennett – to get involved and he hasn’t.

For me, it’s a penalty and a red card on the goalkeeper, it’s a reckless challenge and that was the wrong decision.


Marriner blunders hinder Chelsea

Game: Swansea 2 – 2 Chelsea

Ref: Andre Marriner

Games involving players like Diego Costa can quickly become complicated, and Swansea’s clash with Chelsea quickly became just that. With three big decisions to make, referee Andre Marriner may well have dropped the ball in a catastrophic way.

To Marriner’s credit, he got the first big incident spot on. After controversial substitute Mo Barrow floated a speculative ball towards Gylfi Sigurdsson, Thibaut Courtois found himself in no man’s land having misread the bounce. Courtois stuck a hopeless leg out and brought the Icelandic player crashing to the floor. Marriner immediately pointed for the inevitable penalty kick.

While that penalty was nailed-on, what happened next wasn’t quite so cut and dried. Gary Cahill found himself dallying on the ball just outside of his own penalty area. Swansea’s Leroy Fer took the opportunity to pick his pocket, going on to score a shocking goal to put his team into the lead. Unfortunately for Marriner, who had seen nothing wrong with the challenge, replays clearly showed that Fer had not touched the ball at all in his attempt to steal it from Cahill. In fact, he had simply kicked the player’s legs from beneath him. The goal shouldn’t have stood.

The last decision was once again a dodgy incident involving a goalkeeper. It’s hard not to feel that these players are given ridiculously preferential treatment during games. Yes, they are vulnerable, but are they really in need of diplomatic status on the football field? This time it was Lukasz Fabianski who was making a nuisance of himself. After coming out of his area to tackle an onrushing Eden Hazard, Fabianski collided with Costa, appearing to have bodychecked the striker.

Marriner gave nothing, causing Costa to shake his head in disbelief. Had the keeper been wearing an outfield player’s shirt, he would’ve most certainly conceded a free-kick. Perhaps it was Costa’s reputation that preceded him, but goalkeepers seem to be living suspiciously charmed lives at the moment.

Grade: C. Two big mistakes may well have cost Chelsea.

Mark Halsey’s Verdict

I’ve been in Doha over the weekend working with BeIN Sports and all collectively said Leroy Fer fouled Gary Cahill as soon as it happened and I don’t know why the decision wasn’t given.

Unless you somehow poke the ball through a player’s legs, you can’t go through the back of someone without fouling them. We spoke about Andre Marriner two weeks ago for missing Sergio Aguero’s elbow when he had a great view and he’s missed an obvious call here too.

The second half was a tough one for the amount of decisions but full credit to the assistant referee who made the call on the Swansea penalty, he’s got that one absolutely spot on and the referee was also right to allow Diego Costa’s goal to stand.


Arnautovic at it again

Game: Stoke 0 – 4 Tottenham

Ref: Anthony Taylor

It appeared Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham side could do no wrong this weekend. At Stoke’s newly-named Bet365 Stadium, Mark Hughes just could not catch a break from referee Anthony Taylor. But by the letter of the law, the manager has not a leg to stand.

Hughes was sent to the stands by the officials after leaving his technical area to protest a series of decisions he disagreed with. Though the Welshman complained this was unfair and harsh, Taylor was well within his rights to send him off. Managers are well aware of the rules, so why would you be allowed to flout them simply because you are displeased?

Hughes’ protests are doubly galling as replays showed that Taylor was also correct in his decision to card Marko Arnautovic for what his manager called “evasive action.” The controversial striker clearly dived in the hope of conning the ref, but Taylor was having none of it. This impressive display of ‘sang-froid’ is precisely what the Premier League requires in its referees.

Grade: B+. Taylor was correct to penalise an out-of-line Hughes.

Mark Halsey’s Verdict

I have a bit of sympathy for Mark Hughes because the officials have contributed to him getting sent off. Arnautovic was not looking to dive or gain an advantage, he was trying to evade a challenge and Mark had every right to be disappointed with the decision given by Anthony Taylor.

As a former referee I don’t condone his actions on the touchline at all but I can understand why he was disappointed with the decision. You also have to wonder why Taylor and his fourth official Jon Moss were out on Friday night at a referee event when they’re meant to be officiating a Premier League game on a Saturday afternoon.


Decision of the Week – Jose Fonte on Olivier Giroud

It’s not a penalty for me, Bobby Madley’s gone looking for trouble in the last minute and he’s found it and to add insult to injury he’s booked Fonte for the incident too.

It’s just a really soft penalty to give and Southampton also have every right to feel aggrieved that they weren’t awarded a foul on Shane Long just before the penalty was given. The other issue is Laurent Koscielny was lying on the floor for a long period before the decision, referees aren’t doctors and you could say Madley should have stopped the game to allow Koscielny to receive treatment on the pitch.

Another decision that was missed was that Leicester City’s goal at Liverpool should have been disallowed for encroachment from the goal kick. The game isn’t active again until the ball leaves the penalty area and Shinji Okazaki enters the area before the ball has left it. A basic law has been missed by Craig Pawson and instead of a goal the goal kick should have been re-taken.


Read more from Alex here

Follow Alex on Twitter at @AlexVryzakis and Mark Halsey at @RefereeHalsey



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