Ref Review: Crystal Palace vs Manchester United was shambolic + Everton, Arsenal and Liverpool

After a bumper week of action which saw ten games across both Saturday and Sunday, and Tuesday and Wednesday, Mark Halsey from is back to run the rule over plenty more questionable refereeing decisions. But, we do leave a little sprinkling of Christmas spirit for a referee who has been heavily criticised in this column so far this season. Watch on…

Mike Jones (Hull City vs Crystal Palace)

I’ve been quite vocal on this issue over the last couple of years because these are the incidents we need to eradicate from our game. Mike is in a great position to see there’s no contact. If you look at the way Scott Dann goes to ground makes Mike think he’s caught him and if you go to ground like that you are running that risk – but players are always going to try and get what they can out of referees.

Snodgrass has gone down and he’s bought it – Mike Jones has bought it. It’s not a penalty. Mike has to be more switched on but to be fair, Snodgrass doesn’t have a history of that, so it’s surprising. But this seems to be happening too much now. We need to have a three man panel – the same three every week – who sit down every Monday and go through these incidents. We don’t need a 10/15 person committee. We should do what the Scottish FA do: retrospective action and bans for things like this.

Snodgrass then gives a penalty away later in the game. It was a penalty and there weren’t too many complaints. Mike’s been criticised in recent weeks for his recognition of careless and reckless play, and he’s not been cautioning players for it. Maybe he’s off his game at the moment – he’s certainly not a bad referee, but Benteke should have had a penalty too. Again, Mike’s in a great position so how he can’t see he’s been clipped by the defender, I don’t know.

It’s a worry, I believe referees are coaching themselves at the moment because they don’t trust the PGMOL or their coach, Eddie Wolstenholme. We seem to be giving soft free-kicks outside the box but inside the box they seem to freeze, I think referees prefer to be wrong by not giving a penalty than giving a penalty. We just seem to be talking about it all the time – we’re always talking about big key match errors. I always go back to the Euro’s: how many times were we talking about the referees? We weren’t, that’s because there is clear leadership and direction given by Pierluigi Collina at that level. Here we’ve got Adam Watt who has never refereed in his life and Wolstenholme – who is a lovely guy – but only refereed a handful of Premier League games in 2001. They’re coaching our referees now, and some of our referees have big egos so if they’re coaching themselves they’re never going to be wrong.

Craig Pawson (Swansea vs Sunderland), Lee Mason (Arsenal vs Stoke City), Anthony Taylor (Watford vs Everton)

It has to be given. The player has put his arm up and I think it was a penalty. He’s moved his arm up to block the ball and he doesn’t need to raise his arm that high. When you do that, you’re asking the question over the officials so I think that’s definitely a penalty.

I’m surprised that Xhaka didn’t face retrospective action for his forearm into the face of Joe Allen, since he makes a definite movement towards Allen, so there’s no problem there with that being a penalty either.

For Everton, there’s been a sort of calm down on these incidents now. Mike Dean went off on a tangent by giving a lot of penalties for shirt pulling earlier in the season so I think they’ve all been told to calm down a bit. But you’ve got to give the ones people expect you to give – when there’s grappling and wrestling to the ground. Watford were lucky not to give away a penalty in the final minute.

Craig Pawson (Crystal Palace vs Manchester United)

The first incident, the signs are there straight away, that Ibrahimovic has handballed it for the first goal. I just don’t know how he’s not seen it. The way he moves his arm towards the ball makes it obvious. Craig wasn’t switched on from the start. If you’re not even getting the small things right, then you’re definitely getting the big calls wrong.

And what’s the assistant doing? Pogba’s offside so you’ve got two big calls in one there and neither official – at the top level – has picked that up.

I’ve got to say, the referee should have done his homework on Rojo. He should have been sent off at Everton and he should have been sent off at Palace. Zaha has done him a big, big favour by taking evasive action because if he doesn’t do that, it could be a serious injury. Rojo has to look at how he’s going in for challenges. He can’t keep going in two-footed like that and he’s very fortunate – he’s got two lives out of the way.

Once again in the second half, Craig’s in a great position to see the Palace defender handball the corner. It’s an easy spot because he moves his arm towards the ball and it’s a clear, clear penalty. But then again Rojo is very lucky. He and his teammates go chasing after the referee, and I think Rojo actually puts his arms on him. But Craig looked like a frightened rabbit when they ran after him, he looked scared stiff and I think he just wanted to dig a hole and get out of there.

As a referee, you do question yourself immediately when the reaction from the players is as bad as that. You think about it and then you’re going to make even more mistakes. You have to be so mentally tough because he then did make more errors after that.

It’s not offside after that, it’s a goal. What’s Howard Webb talking about? He’s lost any credibility with anybody, saying his toe is offside is absolutely ridiculous. It’s a perfectly good goal and there’s not a chance it should have been disallowed. He loses credibility with viewers – every time he comes on now you take what he says with a pinch of salt.

I wouldn’t have been giving him Liverpool vs Manchester City because everybody’s going to remember this performance.

Anthony Taylor (Stoke City vs Southampton)

It’s the same as the Man City vs Chelsea game where he’s sent Aguero off. I think the fourth official made that decision for him, and on Wednesday, it was Dave Bryant who told him it was a red card for serious foul play. Anthony wasn’t going to send him off, if you’re going to send him off for a challenge like that, you’re going to do it straight away to stop the kind of incident we saw at the Etihad.

So, credit to Dave for stepping in like that and making the decision. It’s the right decision, he’s a bit unlucky, but in this day and age, you can’t make challenges like that.

Mark Clattenburg (Everton vs Arsenal), Jon Moss (Middlesbrough vs Liverpool)

I watched the game and you don’t know who that free-kick has flicked off until you slow it down and watch a few replays. Mark obviously thinks he’s got it right, so I don’t think you can pin it on him too much – if you know you’ve got it wrong, you’d probably give a free-kick straight away! They’ve still got to defend the corner so you have to look at your own players too, you can’t always just scapegoat the referee.

It wasn’t a clear cut penalty for Arsenal either, if you’re not 100% on those, you can’t give them. I didn’t think it was a penalty watching in real time, so I think he’s got that one right.

Jon Moss deserves a little bit of praise too. He’s played two excellent advantages for Liverpool which has led to Liverpool scoring. Just keep it up, because you’re only as good as your last game. The problem with Jon is he’ll have one good game for every nine bad games! But you do have to credit him, Lee Mason did the same for Arsenal’s final goal against Stoke – although he has missed the stamp by Charlie Adam.


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