After a week off, youaretheref.com‘s Mark Halsey is back to run the rule over just Monday night’s clash between Chelsea and Manchester United after a relatively quiet weekend of action. With the other three FA Cup ties fairly one-sided affairs and a lack of Premier League action, only Michael Oliver comes under the microscope this weekend…
Michael Oliver (Chelsea vs Manchester United)
We keep talking about Michael as one of the most talented young referees but this isn’t the first time he’s struggled to control a match between two of the big teams. It was clear Manchester United were targeting Hazard but Michael picked the wrong decision to pull Phil Jones and Chris Smalling to one side to have a word.
Matteo Darmian commits a foul on Hazard within the first fifteen minutes and that was his chance to warn United but he’s picked a fairly nothing challenge to bring the players to one side. He could have even waited and done it after Ander Herrera’s second foul because it’s a really soft offence that didn’t need to be worthy of a second caution and it’s killed what was up until that point a good cup tie.
Michael has a good relationship with the players and you could see that before the game but we saw at Old Trafford last weekend what happens when players begin to take matters into their own hands. Players like Paul Pogba and Antonio Valencia got away with worse challenges than Herrera’s in the second half and overall there was a real lack of consistency from Michael throughout the game.
Personally I would have cautioned Diego Costa earlier than he did too for simulation with Marcos Rojo inside the penalty box, then you’ve got Rojo’s stamp on Hazard near the end of the match which the BBC didn’t pick up on until after the match. Those kind of things don’t happen if the referee puts his authority on the match early on but Michael never did that on Monday night.
Rojo will likely get a ban now, it was a different situation to the Mings stamp last weekend so he’s probably more likely to get a three match ban* and Herrera will be banned for two games as it’s his second red card of the season. But they’ve both missed the Rojo stamp, both he and Stuart Burt and one of them at this level has to be spotting that at the time.
I’ve said before referees need a break every now and again, especially from the big games so I think it’s a really odd decision that the FA have given Michael the Manchester City vs Liverpool game this Sunday. You can’t remain at the peak of your mental ability through these big games week after week.
* The FA announced at 5pm Rojo wouldn’t face a ban as Michael Oliver had seen the incident.
You can follow Mark on Twitter at @RefereeHalsey