VAR in Manchester United game was a “farce” whilst Manchester City game handled badly in Mark Halsey’s Ref Review

The FA Cup took centre stage during another controversial weekend of officiating which threw up more questions about VAR, more incidents involving Dele Alli and a managerial face-off at Wigan. So of course we need’s Mark Halsey to pick the bones out of what the referees got right, and what they didn’t…


Paul Tierney (Sheffield Wednesday vs Swansea City)

Tammy Abraham should have had a penalty, I thought it was absolutely nailed on and I’m not sure how Paul Tierney has missed it. There’s a clear push from a corner and Abraham has every right to be upset. Swansea should have had a clear penalty.


Kevin Friend & Neil Swarbrick (Huddersfield Town vs Manchester United)

It was a farce. All goals are checked in the protocol for VAR and where offside is concerned a clear and obvious error doesn’t come into the equation, it’s about whether he’s on or off and nothing more.

In the laws of the game we are continuously told by the PGMOL that the benefit of the doubt goes to the attacker, are we now saying with VAR in force that’s gone? We only give the benefit of the doubt in games that don’t use VAR? You can’t do that.

Those wobbly lines come up and you wonder what’s going on. Then you get told you’re looking at straight lines and you can make those lines as thin or thick as possible to make your decision. If it takes so long to find an image to prove the goal was right to be disallowed then that for me is nonsense, the goal should have been given. We’re talking about a kneecap, I mean come on.

It’s imperative that VAR has experienced technicians with them and not guys who are on an internship and I understand that’s what they’ve been using and that match officials have not been happy with that. We’re seeing all around the world at the moment there are problems with it, they’re using it for the League Cup final this weekend and Neil Swarbrick will once again be the VAR. He’s been identified as one of the best at it so what hope does that give us if there’s only one referee they trust to do it?

I should add that I thought Kevin handled it very well, he kept the players away and kept his calm until he could come to a decision.


Bobby Madley (Rochdale vs Tottenham Hotspur)

There’s clear contact with Dele Alli and I don’t think anyone can argue it’s a clear penalty. But it’s just the way he keeps going down, he throws himself in the air and on another day a referee could view that as simulation and show him a caution.

Alli’s got himself a reputation now where he’s going to get fouled and he’s going to go down and not get a penalty. Someone needs to have a word with him and quickly, just go down naturally. The Rochdale player has stuck his leg out before Alli dangles his leg out too, it’s very difficult but it is a penalty.


Anthony Taylor (Wigan Athletic vs Manchester City)

It was a great result for Wigan but a big decision contributed to their victory when Fabian Delph put a challenge in on Max Power.

As a referee in those situations you’ve got to judge was it reckless or reckless and endangering the player’s safety with excessive force and brutality? It’s one of those where you can support either decision, it’s a strong yellow, or in referee terms an orange.

I don’t think there would have been too many complaints had Anthony just shown Delph a caution. Anthony clearly recognised it as a reckless challenge and I haven’t got a problem with that, but the fact he’s come out with a yellow card straight away shows he’s recognised it as reckless. He then begins the cautioning process, he’s got the player and writing his name and number down, the Wigan players aren’t happy and the coaching team aren’t happy. There’s a lot of pressure being put on Anthony but in those situations you’ve got to be mentally tough, obviously the fourth official has to have said something to Anthony to change his mind.

As a match official you do not get involved when a referee has already made his mind up. But Anthony should have been strong and rightly or wrongly should have just carried on and gone with the caution, there wouldn’t have been many complaints. That’s then set off Pep Guardiola who thinks Paul Cook has got his player sent off and I think Anthony will look back and just wish he’d carried on with what he was doing in the first place.

He’s not giving himself any thinking time either because he’s brought the yellow card straight out, he hasn’t given himself any time to take information in from his fellow officials and digest what needs to be done. There was a similar challenge by a Wigan player earlier in the game which was similar and shows Anthony’s recognition was inconsistent during the course of the match.

Anthony’s from Altrincham and supports Altrincham, he’s a mile or two from Old Trafford but that doesn’t come into it once you’re out there on the field. You’re fully focused on the job in front of you, although in my opinion he shouldn’t be appointed to the Manchester games because he’s so near to the city.

With Aguero at the end, he should have been off that pitch as quick as he could, but Wigan have to be held accountable for allowing their fans onto the field of play. There was clearly inadequate stewarding for such a big game, they never have that amount of away fans coming to the ground so the club have to look at it. No supporter has the right to go up and abuse a player and I’m sure we’d have all reacted the same way Aguero did.


You can follow Mark on Twitter at @RefereeHalsey

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