How many times have we heard the question: “What about consistency, ref?” And I agree. Too often, referees make different decisions after the same or similar incidents.
I’m referring to one particular incident in the top-of-the-table clash between champions Manchester City and Premier League leaders Liverpool last week.
It was an eagerly awaited clash between these two giants of English football and they didn’t disappoint on the night.
What was disappointing was the performance of the referee.
Anthony Taylor is an experienced referee and is on the Fifa list of international match officials.
His performance throughout the game was okay, but, when it came to the “big” call, he bottled it.
This is where the consistency – or lack of it – comes in.
In recent games and, in fact, from the start of this season’s English Premier League (EPL), any player who went into a tackle with both feet off the ground got a straight red card.
But not this time – and the question being askedis why?
City captain Vincent Kompany was in a no-win situation when he came up against the Reds’ prolific goal-scorer Mo Salah and he had to foul him or Salah would have been through on goal.
That’s fine, but the problem is that he only got a yellow card.
Television footage showed clearly that Kompany was off his feet when contact was made and it was good fortune for Salah that he wasn’t more seriously injured.
The referee must have seen the incident because he produced a yellow card.
Why didn’t he produce a red card? That’s the minimum punishment for such a foul.
It has long been a belief of mine that some of the referees are scared of certain clubs.
They are afraid of the reaction of the players, coaches and clubs, and appear to be pandering to their every whim and cry.
Red cards are being produced against so-called lesser teams, but, when it comes to the “big boys”, the referees are found sadly wanting.
And when did it become the norm for fourth officials to feel the wrath of frustrated managers or coaches?
In this particular game, City boss Pep Guardiola was very angry and agitated.
He threw something on the ground in frustration and then angrily confronted the fourth official, Martin Atkinson.
This is appalling behaviour and must not be tolerated.
In my opinion, there was every justification for Guardiola to be sent to the stands (managers and club officials are not issued with yellow or red cards).
At one point, I thought that’s what was going to happen, but, sadly, and to the detriment of referees and refereeing in general, the match official lacked the guts to do what should have been done.
There is a lot of talk about referees now becoming “man managers” – the implication of that is that we (refs) have to “wet nurse” these thugs masquerading as managers or coaches because they get frustrated and feel the pressure when decisions don’t go their way.
That is nonsense and referees should not allow themselves to become “whipping boys” just because managers or coaches are feeling pressured. That’s part of their job and not our concern.
Match officials are becoming too close to club officials.
They are constantly seen talking when substitutes come on, at corner kicks and when a player is down and injured.
Some referees are now not asking for but taking a drink from the medical people who come on to treat a player.
They are immediately compromised and this practice should stop.
Their job is to apply the laws of the game to the best of their ability in a fair and unbiased way without fear or favour to one side or the other.
That’s not happening in the Premier League.
I have mentioned this particular game, but it happens in other games as well, and the optics of it are not good. Bring your own water and stay well away from teams and their club officials.