The Premier League is back! Which means so is our expert former referee Mark Halsey from TheRef.online. The first weekend of action saw several penalties given, one which wasn’t, and an opinion-splitting red card as newly promoted Wolves faced Everton. Mark kindly returns for the 2018/19 season to offer his expert view on proceedings.
Andre Marriner (Manchester United vs Leicester City)
There’s been a lot of talk and controversy in the World Cup surrounding handball situations but Andre has started as he means to go on here.
I don’t know what Daniel Amartey is thinking of. It’s a definite deliberate movement of arm towards the ball and it’s an odd one because Andre definitely thought about it for a couple of seconds and then eventually gave it.
But he’s arrived at the correct outcome despite taking a few seconds to come to his decision. He got the weekend off to a good start; Andre’s one of the referees you can rely on and trust.
Martin Atkinson (Newcastle United vs Tottenham Hotspur)
It was a good performance from Martin and great to see goal line technology come to the fore again. In real time there’s no way any match official would have given that as a goal because it’s just impossible.
It was a fraction over the line and the technology worked.
Kevin Friend (Bournemouth vs Cardiff City)
I thought the penalty for Bournemouth was one of those where it didn’t really look like there was anything in it.
Had Kevin played on and given nothing I don’t think anybody would have complained. To me it looked like the player tripped himself up but Kevin was right there and he’s given the decision.
Mike Dean (Fulham vs Crystal Palace)
Mike was in a great position to give Fulham a penalty. Whether he thought there was no contact or he went down too easy or was simply too close, I don’t know because it’s a clear penalty.
Mike will be disappointed he never gave Fulham a penalty. It was a game changing moment because Fulham were 1-0 down and it could have made a big difference to the outcome of the game.
Chris Kavanagh (Huddersfield Town vs Chelsea)
I watched this game live and I just felt although it was a correct decision to award Chelsea a penalty, I think Chris was a bit indecisive and he was inconsistent with his decision making.
It’s his second season and he’ll be thrown into some more difficult games now and it’s difficult to criticise a first game of the season. He’s looking for match practice and fitness so let’s hope we see improvement as the season goes on.
Craig Pawson (Wolves vs Everton)
What Craig told BT at half-time and the Everton officials was he sent Jagielka off for denial. It clearly wasn’t denial of a clear goal scoring opportunity, it didn’t meet the criteria for denial.
Then after the game it was serious foul play and that it was two offences in the same incident. The more serious offence always takes preference so the PGMOL have come out with a statement to get them out of a tight corner.
It was one of those incidents where you can back the referee with the red card but also support him if he shows a caution. At the end of the day it’s the opinion of the referee and you have to accept that.
Anthony Taylor (Liverpool vs West Ham United)
It was a poor decision from Adam Nunn to miss the offside on Sadio Mane because that’s an easier offside decision you’d want to make as an assistant referee.
He was a good yard offside so I can only assume he’s switched off or lost concentration for a split second. You shouldn’t need to have VAR and technology to see that incident because it was clear.
Michael Oliver (Arsenal vs Manchester City)
Michael made the game look easy. I thought it was a very good performance but in the first few moments I thought he failed to stamp his authority on the game.
As a referee you’re always looking for that early moment to do that. It doesn’t always need a caution but Laporte committed a reckless challenge on Aubameyang and I thought that was the moment to stamp his authority.
A few minutes later he cautioned Sterling and I think he got those the wrong way around. But it’s a minor criticism because I thought he had an excellent game. Players trust him because he knows how to manage a game.
Is the Premier League missing VAR?
A lot of people say it was a success at the World Cup but it was only a success in matter of fact decisions. When a decision was given either just inside or outside the box and with factual incidents of offside goals, the VAR worked extremely well.
Where it lacked training and education was when decisions were subjective. There were a lot of incidents where VAR shouldn’t have been recommended to the referee and some which should have been reviewed that weren’t.
I think there’s a lot of work to be done and it’s not ready for the Premier League yet. We haven’t got the people yet; the VAR is only as good as the people operating it and unfortunately we’ve got a severe lack of quality officials to do the VAR.
I think the Premier League were absolutely spot on not to bring it in. I understand there have been trials over the summer at youth tournaments with select group officials and it hasn’t worked well at all, it’s gone badly. I think we should have been seeing a lot of retired top referees to come and act as VAR because it’s a totally different mindset.
You can follow Mark on Twitter @RefereeHalsey